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Sekac Reports to Coyotes, Likely to Debut Monday

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

Forward Jiri Sekac reported to the Coyotes in Pittsburgh on Sunday and skated with his new teammates at a practice at the Consol Energy Center.

The Coyotes claimed Sekac off the waiver wire on Saturday. The 23-year-old winger from Czech Republic began the season with Anaheim but was traded to Chicago on Jan. 21 for Ryan Garbutt.

“For me, it’s been a lot of movement lately so it’s kind of tough, but there’s nothing you can do about it,” Sekac said. “I’m just going to do my thing… I got claimed off waivers. It’s obviously better to be with some NHL team than a farm team, and these guys are fighting for the playoffs. That’s a nice extra little thing as well.”

Sekac skated on the fourth line at Sunday’s practice with center Kyle Chipchura and winger Tyler Gaudet. With fourth-liner Viktor Tikhonov already back in the Phoenix area to be with his wife as she gives birth, Sekac likely will play Monday when the Coyotes conclude a five-game trip vs. the Penguins.

Sekac told reporters his strength is his skating, and Head Coach Dave Tippett is eager to see what Sekac can do over the last 20 games of the season. He said the undrafted Czech’s speed should serve him well.

“The game is quick now,” Tippett said. “If you can play quick it’s an asset.”

Sekac suffered a high ankle sprain on Nov. 1 and missed six weeks of the season. That injury, he said, ended up costing him a spot with the Ducks, who subtly altered their identity while he was sidelined. With Chicago, Sekac played fourth-line minutes on a team loaded with talented forwards. After Chicago acquired forwards Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann this weekend, Sekac was placed on waivers.

Sekac had a few friends waiting for him in Arizona’s dressing room on Sunday. He knows fellow Czechs Martin Hanzal and Zbynek Michalek, and he was teammates with Jarred Tinordi in Montreal last season.

Sekas said the frequent team changing is challenging, but it’s nothing he can’t handle.

“It’s mentally tough to just stick with it, but I'm still playing in the NHL and that’s good,” Sekac said. “You’ve got to take the positives. That’s all you can do.”

Sekac has produced 10 goals and 17 assists in 97 NHL games with the Blackhawks, Ducks and Canadiens. He also has played games in the KHL, AHL, USHL and OHL.

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