Blackhawks acquire Sekac from Ducks for Garbutt

Forward Jiri Sekac will have a fresh start after being acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.

Gary A. Vasquez/Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks added an infusion of youth on Thursday by acquiring Jiri Sekac from the Anaheim Ducks for fellow depth forward Ryan Garbutt.

The move was the second in six days for the Ducks (20-18-7), who shuffled struggling Carl Hagelin to the Pittsburgh Penguins for fellow forward David Perron and defenseman Adam Clendening on Friday.

Sekac, who could become a restricted free agent on July 1, scored one goal and set up two others in 22 games for Anaheim this season. The 23-year-old, who missed six weeks of action earlier in 2015-16 due to a sprained left ankle, has collected 10 goals and 16 assists in 91 career contests with the Montreal Canadiens and Ducks.

Garbutt has recorded two goals and four assists in 43 games with the Blackhawks (32-13-4) this season. The 30-year-old joined Chicago as part of last summer’s deal that sent veteran forward Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars.

Garbutt has scored 32 goals and set up 44 others in 241 career contests with the Stars and Blackhawks.

The trade from the streaking Blackhawks to the inconsistent Ducks caught Garbutt by surprise, but he hoped to be in Washington on Friday for the Ducks’ road trip opener against the Capitals. Garbutt has been in Chicago’s lineup for each of its 12 consecutive victories, although he scored just one goal since Nov. 21.

"It was pretty early in the morning, so it was a bit of a shock," Garbutt said in a phone interview. "But once I thought about the chance to come to an organization that’s done well for the last five or 10 years, I was excited. I wasn’t expecting to be traded, but that’s something every player in the league has to be ready for. You have to be ready to take that step as it comes and use it to get better."

Garbutt, who played alongside Ducks forward Shawn Horcoff in Dallas, had a memorable playoff clash in Anaheim in April 2014.

Garbutt got a game misconduct in the first period of Game 5 of their first-round playoff series for spearing Anaheim’s Corey Perry in the groin, leaving the Ducks’ top goal-scorer writhing in agony on the ice. While Garbutt claimed he was just careless, Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau called Garbutt’s stick work "deliberate" and "pretty dirty."

"I think that (when) something happens on the ice, guys in this league know emotions run high, especially in the playoffs," Garbutt said Thursday of the conflict. "I know the guys over there compete every shift they’re on the ice, and I wouldn’t expect anything else from them as well."

Sekac’s speed and skill are tantalizing, but the 23-year-old Czech wing hasn’t been able to sustain solid NHL play.


"We’re trying to solidify our bottom-six (forwards) more to our style," Anaheim general manager Bob Murray said. "We kind of hoped Jiri (Sekac) would fit into the top-six grouping, and it wasn’t quite working properly. It looked like it was best for us to move on."

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Sekac could play Friday night at Florida.

"There’s business decisions right now in a lot of things we do, and then there’s hockey decisions," Quenneville said before the Blackhawks played at Tampa Bay. "You balance them out. It’s probably part of both. It will be a good opportunity for both guys. Probably get a better look and maybe get more opportunity to play."

The trade moves two forwards who didn’t appear to fit their previous team’s style of play. Murray wants his team to play tougher hockey, while the fluid Blackhawks have loads of speedy talent.

"Maybe (Garbutt) wasn’t a perfect fit for the way Chicago plays, either," Murray said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.