In the wake of the unceremonious firing of Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier Wednesday morning, it might be fun to take a look back at one of the moves that led to his ultimate demise.

In Regier’s penultimate trade, he sent Andrej Sekera to Jim Rutherford’s Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Jamie McBain and pick number 35 in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The swap of blue-liners for the early second rounder more than miffed a few Hurricanes fans, but that can be mostly chalked up to the unknown nature of Sekera and the expectations some were still clinging to for McBain.

While everyone in Carolina has been enamored with the play of young defenders Ryan Murphy and Justin Faulk, it’s Sekera that’s been playing the best hockey — at both ends of the ice. Among defensemen, he ranks first on the team in blocked shots (t-26th in the NHL), takeaways (t-4th), goals, points and is averaging just 30 seconds fewer per game than Faulk, despite the two being attached at the hip in nearly every situation.

McBain, on the other hand, has been in and out of the Sabres’ lineup, spending several games as a healthy scratch. His minus-four turnover differential would put him dead last on the Hurricanes by a large margin, and his four points would tie him for fourth with Ron Hainsey.

The difference in play was expected, though. After all, that was the reason for the inclusion of the second round pick. But when considering the differences beyond the ice, the gap gets even wider.

The 25-year-old McBain was thought to be still developing, having yet to reach his potential. While that may yet hold true, he only has 20 months on Sekera, who’s not exactly an “elder statesman” himself, despite being paired with the 21-year-old Faulk.

But, oddly enough, McBain will actually make more money this year than his counterpart. Regier signed Sekera to a deescalating contract, then dealt him for the more expensive McBain when his deal started to get cheap. Though Sekera’s cap hit is higher — and the ‘Canes are close to the ceiling this year — McBain’s deal expires a year earlier. He may not have earned a raise, but free agent negotiations can always be tricky.

The value of the second round pick cannot be discounted, however. There were plenty of high profile guys still available in what was termed “one of the deepest drafts in ages”. Goaltender Zach Fucale was taken with the very next pick, and could have been a future successor to Cam Ward — something the organization lacks.

Regardless of how the draft turns out, even if another Shea Weber emerges from the depths, the value of the pick will always be the same without the benefit of hindsight. Taking another Danny Richmond would have been just as likely as a Weber. Sekera probably represents the high end of what could have been expected from a selection in that spot, and the ‘Canes wouldn’t have reaped the results from that for years.

In the end, Rutherford significantly upgraded his blue-line at the cost of what became a cap dump — McBain has been a healthy scratch nearly every year since his debut — and a second round pick. No matter what becomes of that deal for Buffalo’s new GM, Rutherford can already count it as a win.

About The Author

Andrew Luistro graduated from Appalachian State University. An avid sports fan, he began beat writing for the Sunbelt Hockey Journal, part of The Hockey Writers Network, with a focus on the Carolina Hurricanes. Andrew also actively follows the Boston Red Sox and Carolina Panthers, among other teams. Follow him on Twitter @ndrewL7

2 Responses

  1. Section_328

    Yeah, we absolutely came out smelling like roses. Heck of an upgrade for only the cost of a 2nd rounder.  One note: his last name is spelled “Sekera”

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