The Winnipeg Jets are in dire need of a transformation this summer. I don't think many people could argue with that statement.
However, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff quashed the hopes of a compliance buyout for what many consider to the be weakest link on the team in Ondrej Pavelec when he gave the following quote at his year-end presser:
"Ondrej Pavelec is the No.1 goaltender going into next season."
Sigh. So much for that dream. Looks like we're going to have to hope for Michael Hutchinson (or somebody else like Jonas Hiller) to step in and quickly displace Pavs as the starter if the Jets will ever hope to compete in the Central Division.
But if he's gonna be here, we may as well use his citizenship and passport to our advantage. In case you didn't know, Pavelec and one of our actual good players in Michael Frolik hail from Kladno, Czech Republic. Why do I bring this up?
And there's another free agent we should keep our eye on who most people haven't heard of: a 22-year-old Czech by the name of Jiri Sekac. He went through the NHL Drafts and never got picked up. He was once cut by the Peterborough Petes but he had a strong year in the KHL playing for the Prague team. Right now he has more than a dozen firm offers on a max entry-level deal for two years. He's expected over the next couple of days to make up his mind as to which team. This is a guy who is in great demand. He's a 6'2, 190 pound left winger who many believe is ready to step in NHL-ready.
And wouldn't you know it? Sekac also hails from Kladno, Czech Republic. Perhaps even more interesting (or scary, depending on how you look at it) is the fact that Sekac not only shares the same hometown as Pavelec and Frolik but also the same agent in Alan Walsh. The Jets could create their very own "Kladno Krew" (patent pending).
So what do we know about Sekac? To perfectly honest, I don't know much other than looking at the stats below and seeing that he was a player for the Czechs at the World Championships and that he had a good regular season and playoffs with HC Lev Praha in the KHL.
Born: June 10, 1992 (21 years old) in Kladno, Czech Republic
Height: 6'2 Weight: 190lbs Shoots: Left
So, could Sekac help the Jets? Well, sure. The bottom-six of this team has been hot garbage for the past three seasons, and the only bottom-six left-winger (unless you sadly count Dustin Byfuglien) under contract for next season at this time is Eric Tangradi. Without even seeing him play, I'm pretty sure he'd be an upgrade.
As for whether or not he'd be willing to come to Winnipeg, the only things I think that the Jets could offer Sekac that not every team could is a pair of players from his home-town who speak his native language and a GIANT hole in the bottom-six just waiting for somebody to claim it. Without knowing which teams have offered him contracts, I'd be willing to suggest that not many of them could offer him immediate playing time on a third-line. But that's just speculation.
I wrote a piece a few weeks ago that suggested that the Jets should be "Russian" to add Europeans to their roster. This move would clearly be in line with my wishes, though the Alexander Burmistrov portion of that piece has unfortunately been ruled out. But the Nikolai Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski dream is still alive!
Will adding an unknown free-agent who only got into 8 OHL games before being cut and went undrafted multiple times cure what ails the Jets? Not by himself. This team needs to see their risk-averse GM step up and have a big summer in the trade market to shake up this team in the opinion of this writer. But adding what appears to be a coveted late-bloomer to shore up a clearly lacking bottom-six certainly wouldn't hurt.
However, If Jiri Sekac takes up a roster spot so that James Wright or Chris Thorburn can't? That in itself would be a major reason to sign him up.