When the Carolina Hurricanes were looking to move down a few picks in the first round and acquire a top-four defenseman, they had their eye on Buffalo Sabres blueliner Andrej Sekera.
That trade never happened.
Then the second round began, and the Hurricanes made their move.
In the first ever trade between the Carolina and Buffalo organizations, the Canes acquired Sekera in exchange for defenseman Jamie McBain and the 35th overall pick.
“We’re really pleased to get Sekera,” said Jim Rutherford, the team’s president and general manager. “He’s a real defensive defenseman. He’s a shutdown guy. He can kill penalties and really play in all situations.”
Sekera was a third-round pick of Buffalo in 2004. He’s logged 92 points (17g, 75a) in 339 career games with the Sabres. In the 2012-13 season, he averaged 21:12 of ice time per game.
“We feel very comfortable with him in our top four,” Rutherford continued. “He can play top-four minutes.”
When outlining offseason priorities, Rutherford placed finding a top-four defenseman at the top of the list. Vice President of Hockey Operations Ron Francis identified Sekera, a 27-year-old Slovakia native, a short-list candidate.
“We kept watching him closer and closer, and then we eventually got to today,” Rutherford said, musing that Sekera could pair with Tim Gleason on the blue line.
McBain was selected by Carolina in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He logged 206 career games with the Canes, posting 19 goals and 56 assists (75 points). In the 2012-13 season, he had just eight points (1g, 7a) in 40 games.
“I think Jamie will turn his game around next year, but unfortunately he didn’t come to camp last year ready to play,” Rutherford said. “He wasn’t in good shape, and because of that, he didn’t have a good year and he got in the coach’s doghouse. I really didn’t see that he was going to get himself out of it. I wish him well. He’s a good guy.”
Now that the Canes have addressed their defensive needs on draft day, don’t expect the team to be overly active in the last five rounds.
“I’m not as anxious now to do anything,” Rutherford said. “I don’t think we will.”
Don’t rule out further moves in the offseason, though.
“This answers our need for right now, but we’ll keep looking around,” Rutherford said. “We said we were going to change our defense around, and we started to do that with Sekera. (Ryan) Murphy and (Brett) Bellemore are real strong possibilities, so there are three new guys right there. If somebody else comes along that we think we can upgrade our position, then we will.”
Talks to move the pick in the first round might not have panned out, but the Hurricanes aren’t complaining.
“As it’s turned out, we got to stay at five, get the player we wanted and also get the defenseman that we, when we came here to this draft, were hoping to get,” Rutherford said.