Once a highly coveted KHL free agent, former Montreal Canadiens forward Jiri Sekac has signed a one-year agreement with AK Bars Kazan of the KHL, ending his NHL endeavor after merely two seasons.
Sekac played 108 games in the NHL and recorded 10 goals, 19 assists for 29 points in that span. His offensive output never lived up to the hype which accompanied him across the pond.
The 23 year-old winger failed to establish himself as a regular NHL caliber player while playing for four different teams in his two years in North America. After signing in Montreal and playing 50 games in the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge, Sekac was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in a one-for-one deal for Devante Smith-Pelly, also no longer with the Canadiens.
In his second NHL season he failed to impress the Ducks, was sent down to the AHL San Diego Gulls, and was traded shortly thereafter to the Chicago Blackhawks, where the Czech Republic native played six games, recording a single point before being placed on waivers.
He was claimed by the Arizona Coyotes and in a short audition was not able to crack a lineup teeming with young prospects.
Sekac was scouted as an offensive player despite mediocre numbers in the KHL, where he played 109 games, mostly with HC Lev Praha. Despite his talent, he wasn't able to produce enough to play regularly on an NHL roster.
He was well liked by Habs fans, seen as a potential scoring winger to play with hometown hero Tomas Plekanec. He is also the type of player fans had yearned for, instead of a big, physical, grinding player. His lack of success in the NHL is unfortunate, but he will surely get more ice time in the KHL, which could help his game. He is still young enough to earn another shot in the NHL.
Bud Holloway has also signed in the KHL this offseason, and will look to impress in his first year CSKA Moskva. Alex Semin moved to the KHL after being cut by Montreal and won the Gagarin Cup with Mettalurg Magnitogorsk this past season. Other former Habs to have played in the KHL include the Kostitsyn brothers, Nigel Dawes, Dustin Boyd, and a handful of prospects. Louis Leblanc has played a total of seven games with HC Slovan Bratislava but failed to score any points.
Sekac is off to join the former club of current Montreal defenceman Alexei Emelin, who spent four seasons with AK Bars Kazan. Surely he will have a better opportunity to showcase his skills, and if all goes well he could play his way back to the NHL eventually.
It's worth noting, that despite the criticism, Sekac's most productive NHL season came with Michel Therrien as his coach.