Trying to follow in the foot steps of someone can be a fitting procedure for setting goals. Learning from the highs and lows of others is priceless because it provides an idea of what possibly lies ahead. While matching the accomplishments of someone you model yourself after may be a little too much to ask, it's the similarities in style that often present themselves.
Dan Boyle is 33 years-of-age, a Stanley Cup winner with the Tampa Bay Lightning and remains one of the supreme offensive defensemen in the NHL. Ten years younger, Andrej Sekera is just scratching the surface in his career as a member of the Buffalo Sabres. They may be at different points in their lives but the correspondence is unmistakable.
Rich Peverley has earned comparisons to Mike Richards. Tyler Myers is literally being sized up alongside Zdeno Chara. It's Sekera's turn to be put under the microscope revealing just how equivalent the Slovakian is to the veteran defender.
Before Boyle established himself, he was a smaller rearguard climbing into a full-time position. Undrafted and signed by the Florida Panthers in 1998, 35 games is all the big club offered him in two seasons. Following those moments spent mostly in the AHL, he was presented as a regular in 2000.
Recording 22 points in 69 games, Boyle was sent to Tampa Bay the next year in exchange for a fifth-round pick (Martin Tuma) who hasn't received an NHL debut; talk about a steal. Things really took off for the Ottawa native with the Lightning where he exploded for 253 points in 394 games during six campaigns of service.
Now in San Jose, Boyle scored 16 goals and 41 assists in his debut with the Sharks last season. A two-time All-Star, his fluent movement, vision and presence on the powerplay have him totaling points that most forwards wish they could grasp.
Sekera was actually a few years younger when he starred in an NHL contest compared to Boyle. Having played 39 games in two years with the Sabres to get his foot through the door, it sounds akin to his counterpart's beginnings on Florida.
If that doesn't ring an alarm, this will: both players played 69 games in their third year compiling totals within range of each other (Boyle had 22 points, Sekera 19). With five points in 15 matches, the young blue-liner is on pace for 23 points this season. In his fourth season, Boyle contributed 26 points and really came into his own as a fifth-year pro with that first 53-point outburst.
To recap those massive correlations, here are the numbers.
Seasons 1 and 2: Boyle (35 games played, three goals, eight assists, 11 points). Sekera (39 games played, two goals, six assists, eight points).
Season 3: Boyle (69 games played, four goals, 18 assists, 22 points). Sekera (69 games played, three goals, 16 assists, 19 points).
Season 4: Boyle (66 games played, eight goals, 18 assists, 26 points). Sekera (on pace for 72 games played, four goals, 19 assists, 23 points).
Sekera also uses his speed to get out of trouble like Boyle and reacts calmly to unpredictable situations. Continuing to grow in his role on the powerplay, he too can set-up teammates or pinch in with the puck. If their parallel methods aren't convincing enough to indicate the similarities, the numbers don't lie.
To repeat what I stated earlier, Boyle didn't have a gigantic offensive year until season five. From the looks of the statistics, the 23-year-old Sabres defenseman has duplicated his approach. Should it continue, maintain a watch on Andrej Sekera in 2010-2011 because it could be his break-out campaign.