The Montreal Canadiens beefed up their forward group Tuesday by trading some speed and skill to the Anaheim Ducks.
The Canadiens traded rookie forward Jiri Sekac to the Ducks for forward Devante Smith-Pelly.
Sekac and Smith-Pelly are each 22 and were born four days apart in June 1992.
"I see Jiri more as a player who is quick; a bit less speed, but more quick," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin told reporters in St. Louis on Tuesday, where the Canadiens were preparing to face the St. Louis Blues. "Those are the terms we use. From [point] A to [point] B he's really fast, but over a long distance he's not the fastest player. He's really good down low and in the corners. But in that sense I don't think we lose anything with Devante, who is not as fast. He's a big guy. He's not a speed demon, but he'll go into the tough areas and for us that was something we found attractive."
Sekac has seven goals and 16 points in 50 games. He took part in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition last month.
"[Sekac] has good upside offensively. He can skate, he can shoot. He's one of those late bloomers," Ducks GM Bob Murray said.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound forward was never drafted and signed with the Canadiens on July 1 after spending three seasons playing for Lev Praha in the Kontinental Hockey League. Sekac had at least 12 NHL teams trying to sign him last summer but chose the Canadiens because of what he called a gut feeling. Less than eight months later, he got traded.
"I was just happy to be part of an organization like that," Sekac told reporters in St. Louis on Tuesday. "I had a lot of fun and it gave me a lot of experience. Now it's time to move on."
Sekac was going to be a healthy scratch for the third time in six games Tuesday, and he has gone 21 games without a goal. He played largely a third-line role for Canadiens coach Michel Therrien and is eager to see where he fits with the Ducks.
"I know they have a great team," he said. "Hopefully I'm going to fit in and get a real opportunity and show what I got."
Smith-Pelly, 6-0, 220 pounds, was a second-round pick (No. 42) of the Ducks in the 2010 NHL Draft. He has five goals and 17 points in 54 games this season; last season he had 10 points in 19 games and five goals in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
In parts of four NHL seasons, Smith-Pelly has 14 goals and 40 points in 129 games.
Smith-Pelly told TSN 1050 in Toronto that once the news of the trade settled in, he was excited.
"I'm just hoping to be able to play and [be] put in a situation where I can contribute," he said. "I'm not really sure how their lineup sets up or where I'll spot in, but I'm just going to try to jump in and learn as fast as I can and hopefully be able to contribute right away."
Bergevin said Smith-Pelly's performance in the playoffs last season was a major selling point for the Canadiens.
"He's a kid that I think he fits," Bergevin said. "Once you get him, he can help you do some damage [in the playoffs]."
Bergevin has been rumored to be out of the rental market ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline, which is March 2 at 3 p.m. ET, but he said Tuesday that's not necessarily the case. Last season, Bergevin produced perhaps the most surprising trade of deadline day when he acquired forward Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders.
Bergevin was asked if he would shy away from rental players.
"Not necessarily, everything depends on the price to pay," he said. "I'm always open, just like all the other GMs. We make calls, we watch the other teams, and if it makes sense for the future or for the short-term, if it's not too expensive, I think we'll make some moves, just like all the other teams."