Andrej Sekera (Gregg Forwerck/National Hockey League)
The Los Angeles Kings added a puck-moving defenseman to their lineup Wednesday in acquiring veteran Andrej Sekera from Carolina in exchange for a conditional first-round draft pick and prospect Roland McKeown. Clearly, NHL GMs don't want to wait until the March 2 deadline to make moves.
The NHL's GM community continued to move well in advance of the league's March 2 trade deadline, with the third deal of Wednesday taking place between the L.A. Kings and Carolina Hurricanes: the former gets defenseman Andrej Sekera from the Canes; the latter gets a conditional first-round draft pick and prospect Roland McKeown from the Kings.
Sekera isn’t scoring anywhere close to the 11-goal, 44-point season he posted for Carolina last season, but on a horrendous Canes team, the blueliner was second in time-on-ice average (22:49) and carries no contractual commitment beyond this year. Sekera is an above-average puck-mover, and with former Maple Leafs blueliner Cody Franson off the market as of mid-February, the eight-year-veteran was hotly pursued enough by multiple teams to drive up the price Carolina GM Ron Francis got for him. He’s not the type of player who will be the final piece of the puzzle for the Kings, but the 28-year-old Slovakian can be an effective second-pairing defenseman who plays a consistently positionally sound game.
As TSN's Chris Cuthbert noted, Kings director of player personnel Mike Futa worked with Sekera when both were members of the Ontario League's Owen Sound Attack, so GM Dean Lombardi has as good an idea of what he's getting as any GM would. The Kings are still in a battle to secure a playoff spot, and the veteran-laden defending champs were always going to be all-in this season whether they were ninth in the West or first, so it's no surprise Lombardi stepped up to Francis with the best offer.
From Carolina's perspective, they get a first-round pick either this season or next season, as well as defenseman McKeown, a second-round pick (50th overall) of L.A.'s in 2014. They need all the help they can get, and since Sekera wasn't returning to town next year anyway, this is a healthy return in a trade market that isn't nearly as crazy as it used to be.
Sekera is going to get a major raise this summer from the $2.75 million cap hit he carries this season, and it may or may not come from the Kings. Lombardi is well-known for his loyalty to players who win for him, and if Sekera can perform well – most likely on L.A.'s second defensive unit – there's every possibility the organization will do what it needs to in order to retain his services.
Ultimately, as with any trade, it will take some time to ultimately label one side a winner, but you could see why both sides saw Wednesday's deal as manageable.