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Andrej Sekera is one of the best options on the NHL trade market

The Hurricanes defenseman has flown under the radar for much of his career. That should change in the coming weeks.

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If you were to search the Internet high and low for information on Andrej Sekera, you might find it difficult to gain a comprehensive understanding of his abilities. This would be through no fault of your own. While Sekera is in the midst of his ninth NHL campaign, there remains a significant dearth of analyses on the Carolina Hurricanes defenseman -- at least publicly.

Why? Perhaps because he isn't a flashy athlete by any means, nor is he a big personality apt to give juicy quotes. Rather, he's a guy who goes about his business quietly in a small market, and thus, in the eyes of many, goes unnoticed.

That's starting to change, however, thanks to the looming trade deadline set for March 2 at 3 p.m. ET. Sekera, who's earning a modest $2.75 million salary, is a pending unrestricted free agent, and, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, Carolina appears set to trade the left-handed blue liner. And since Cody Franson was mercifully shipped out of Toronto last week, many consider Sekera the best D-man on the block.

As he should be.

The 28-year-old Slovak is a prototypical, puck moving rearguard, one who skates well, is an excellent passer, blocks a lot of shots and isn't prone to costly mistakes. He's extremely disciplined, too, as evident by the fact that he's committed only four penalties this season and hasn't racked up more than 20 PIMs since 2011-12.

The elder half of the Canes' top pairing, Sekera handles a lot of minutes -- averaging 22:49 of ice time in 2014-15. Carolina's lack of depth has force he and Justin Faulk to handle opponents' best forwards without much help, and they've done well in these harsh conditions:


As the blue shade in his bubble indicates, Sekera is a good possession player. This is the norm for him. Except for 2006-07 -- when he played just two NHL games -- Sekera has posted positive shot differentials relative to his teammates in all but one season.

Beyond even strength, Sekera has assumed a big responsibility on the penalty kill, averaging 1:55 shorthanded minutes per game in 2014-15. The Canes' PK has jumped from 17th overall to second under Bill Peters, and Sekera is a huge reason for their success in this regard: Through 54 contests his 4-on-5 shot differential is better than any other Hurricane.

He's also gifted offensively, as seen last year when he tallied 44 points (11 goals, 33 assists) in 74 games. His production has recently dipped -- he has just 19 points in 54 contests this season -- which is concerning to some. But there are a few reason to believe he's due for a spike in production.

Sekera's current shooting percentage (2.7) is a career-low and is almost certain to regress; at 5-on-5, his on-ice shooting percentage -- largely out of his control -- is also a career-low at 6.6. Although it would be unfair to expect him to produce at his 2013-14 pace over the long haul, he's certainly capable of more than he's shown of late.

Assessing Sekera's worth

Sekera's value is tough to pin down -- in part because of his notoriety (or lack thereof), in part because of the always-shifting marketplace. Regardless, Carolina is in rare a position of power. Surely Ron Francis has a lot of rival general managers chomping at the bit, and with few other options available, those seeking a quality D-man for rent could engage in a fierce bidding war.

Question is, how much is he worth? That's difficult to answer. Some reports suggest the Hurricanes are seeking a first-round pick and a prospect in return. Others think that may be too ambitious without other pieces to sweeten the deal.

Sekera and his representatives seem to think he's worth a lot:

$5.5 million is a big AAV. Too big, considering his skill set. Nonetheless, he might deserve "Marc Staal money" more than Marc Staal. Here are their HERO charts side-by-side:


It's interesting to see Sekera doesn't take on quite as much ice time, but his underlying numbers and point total are clearly superior.

The objective here isn't to decide who's better, but to show Sekera is in the same class as Staal, which is to say he would be a great option for a contender looking to beef up its top four.

There certainly isn't a lack of playoff-hopeful teams who could use someone of this caliber. If Francis plays his cards right, he should be able to get an impressive return for Sekera and kickstart a much-needed rebuild.