Am I The Only One That Thinks Andrej Sekera is Good?

by Ryan

The title says it all, really.

Every person I’ve talked to about Sekera’s new deal seems to dislike it and then immediately throw a caveat onto the thought. The caveat seems to be “the Sabres can do deals like this now” or something equally dismissive of Sekera’s value. “Trade bait” is another popular one.

Does anyone actually think Sekera is good? I do. In fact, I think he’s getting better and the contract he got wasn’t totally insane. Is that so hard to believe?

The Sabres have changed the modus operandi around these parts. Obviously. But that doesn’t mean signing Andrej Sekera to a four-year deal worth $11 million is an indicator that Buffalo becomes the Buyout City in two years’ time.

I love the fact that hockey chatter in July isn’t a forced action this summer, but I feel like we’re missing the mark on Sekera a bit. Isn’t he good? Doesn’t he have potential to be one of the Sabres’ better players over the next few seasons?

Mirtle loved his first half last year. His flashes of brilliance used to be a beautiful breakout pass surrounded by turnovers. Now those glimpses were entire games last season. Sekera has improved dramatically and he’s going to get better. At least Darcy thinks so.

“The thing that really prompted us to go longer term with ‘Rej’ was the recognition that we were going to be in arbitration if we didn’t, No. 1, and the belief in him and his ability to grow,” Regier said. “I think we’re just starting to see what Rej can become.”

Facts are facts and quotes are quotes, but you can toss that Darcy quote out of his mouth at any point during his tenure in Buffalo because that’s how he operates. Regardless of the Brave New World vibe the team has going on these days (Got Soma?) this is a move that’s absolutely in the Sabres’ wheelhouse.

The ‘Breaking Bad’ Sabres may engage in some salary cap shenanigans here and there but they’re keeping around their good young players that are showing some promise. In my book, that’s a pair of thumbs just waiting to get sunburned.

What’s interesting is that Sekera’s reputation among fans seems so varied. Some think he has the lowest potential of anyone on the blue line, sans Montador. Even Marc-Andre Gragnani’s stock is soaring, but is he really more reliable than Sekera at this point?

The big names the Sabres have landed are relative question marks for fans. Leino, Ehrhoff and Reghier were all in other sweaters and viewed very differently, if at all, by Sabres fans last season. This year the spotlight will be on that trio to live up to the cash the hype and make sure this season doesn’t end with someone calling out directions on a compass.

Still, I wonder if the frame never really fit the picture for Sekera. Fans are going to see him in a different light this fall, and maybe that’s for the best. From what I remember he has what it takes to stand out.

11 Comments

  1. brian s.

    I like the deal and don’t get where people are saying it’s too much for Sekera. I was expecting a $3.4-4 million deal if it went to arbitration, so think the team’s getting a good value. Plus, wasn’t Sekera the best defenseman on the team for a decent stretch of time last year? 2.75 million/yr sounds right for that type of player.

  2. James

    I like Sekera.

    One of my co-workers blew up when I told him that he was re-signed.

    I think that any time you have a defenseman that isn’t in the Regehr/Weber model, he tends to be a hard sell on Sabres fans unless you are an absolute stud like Tyler Myers.

  3. Sekera has come a long way for a guy once nicknamed “Balls” in these parts.

  4. Sekera is going to be a heckuva bargain in a couple seasons when he is making just 1.75mil.

    His contract is right in line for his age and point production. Some would argue that anything higher than 2.5mil would be too much (I was hoping for 2.4), but in the post-lockout economy, a .25 cap difference seems more like a quarter than it does a quarter million.

    Simply put, it’s a great long term signing on a player who is just entering his prime.

  5. I think the problem is, as the other James said, that Buffalo fans are too hard on a lot of players who aren’t in the big, physical model. Sekera is one, but I think Connolly suffered from that, too.

    The contract’s probably just about right, given how long it is. They’re banking on him being worth more than that in Years 3 and 4.

    • boonies

      “Buffalo fans are too hard on a lot of players who aren’t in the big, physical model….”
      like the big bad Bruins who won the Cup last year and use our little people for chewtoys when they feel like it?
      I have doubts the B’s are on red alert because Ehrhoff is in their division now, having negated him in a 7 game series I watched recently.
      Darcy has rebuilt the soft finesse team of 06-07 that won the Presidents trophy and was ground down in the playoffs. Didnt work then , nor will it now.
      Rick Dudley (2 Cup rings to Darcy’s goose egg) is still available, so there is hope for next year…

    • WeNeedCamNeely!!

      The ‘big bad Bruins’ got huge performances from little guys like Brad Marchand and at times it seemed Tyler Seguin, also under 6 foot and under 200 pounds, was their only offensive spark. Big lugs like Lucic faltered. Chara is a one of a kind type player that the NHL has never had before, and Thomas was the best goalie all year. Those are the key Cup winning components I see, and with Tukka Rask and without Marchand/Seguin offensive spark, last year Boston was a team that lost 4 games ina row after being up 3-0. Nothing ‘big bad’ about that.

      I agree with the original article that Sekera is a good sign, and with this commenter I agree that our fanbase often gets irrationally angry at our finesse, skill players (be they Connolly, Sekera, Mike Wilson or Phil Housley) and overly protective of disposable grinders like Mair or Gaustad. It’s not surprising given our history as usually the smaller team, the younger team, the underdog. But this past series we were bullying Philadelphia, not the other way around. With a meaner Myers, the growing up of Weber, the acquisition of Regehr, and Miller’s mentality which seems colder and maybe angrier every year, that reputation isn’t going to fit much longer.

      I’m looking forward to it. It was stupid in the 90s when Sabres fans said we needed Cam Neely types and not Mogilnys, and it’s still stupid now. But until we’ve been the bully for longer, we’re probably still going to have that irrational preference for larger, tougher players, even when our best seasons have been with high speed skating and passing teams.

  6. I think a lot of fans’ opinions were formed later in the season and his amazing start was long forgotten. He still has the occasional maddening turnover, but overall he looks like he’ll be developing into a stud puck-mover soon. I do also love how he occasionally tosses a big hit in there too though.

  7. Absolutely agree. His contract is very reasonable and he’s a very promising young defenseman. I wonder if people tend to forget how young he is as he is now our longest-tenured D-man (crazy, huh?). I also think they tend to overvalue Weber (whom I do like) because of his physicality. As for Grags, he had a great start and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue but sample size is very small to go choosing him over Rej if we can afford both. I was crossing my fingers while we were waiting on the Sekera signing and I’m thrilled & relieved it came through. Of all the exciting things we have to look forward to next season rolling seven strong defensemen tops my list. Now to just get this Enroth thing sealed up….

  8. Yeah, I like Sekera well enough, and I think he’ll be performing at level that makes this contract a good one by next season. He’ll get some soft minutes, what with Myers and Regehr getting the toughest assignments. And with the ‘new’ Sabres, if he doesn’t work out, they can just pay the man his money and slide Grags in there. No biggie.

  9. Mike

    To boonies – The Bruins didn’t use the Sabres as chewtoys. You do know that the Sabres went 4-1-1 against the Bruins last year right? I’m just sick of this narrative that in order to compete, the Sabres need to become the Bruins. Let them do their own thing, create their own team. They haven’t been victimized by the rest of the teams in their division.