2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres Report Cards: Andrej Sekera

With the 2011-12 Buffalo Sabres ending in disappointment and after a few weeks for us to gather our thoughts, it's time for us to issue our report cards on the season. Over the next few weeks, we'll grade every player that wore a Buffalo Sabres uniform in 2011 and 2012, from Luke Adam to Mike Weber.

2011 - Andrej Sekera 69 3 10 13 3 18 1 0 0 0 88 3.4

Introduction: Coming into the 2011-2012 season, some fans within Pegulaville questioned the off-season signing of Andrej Sekera. Was a 4 year/$11 million dollar contract too much for a player who at times is inconsistent and has been plagued by the injury bug? Could he improve off of his 3 goal, 29 point season from the year before? Does this signing give us too many "offensive" oriented defensemen?

A year after that signing, many Sabres fans have realized that Andrej Sekera has grown into an all-around solid d-man. His point totals did decrease (~0.193 Pts/gm) from last season, but his defensive zone starts, Corsi Relative and Quality of Competition (QoC) stats all increased, showing that he is being trusted with tough defensive minutes in his own zone against another teams top lines. For more analysis of Reggie, come take the jump.

Key Stats: The improved defensive play of Andrej Sekera this past season allowed Lindy Ruff to feel more comfortable with using him as a shut-down blue liner during 5 on 5 play. Looking at end of the year Player Usage Charts (formerly known as OzQoC charts), we can see that Andrej Sekera was given the second highest quality of competition and defensive zone starts of all Sabres defensemen (behind Regehr). While getting these tough minutes, Reggie was still able to record a positive Relative Corsi, which means that the team was generating more shots on ice than the opposition. Overall, these stats show that through the year, Andrej Sekera became our more reliable defenseman on the blue-line. At a $2.75 mil cap hit, that is a good bargain.

Interesting Stat: Andrej Sekera was third on our team in blocked shots with 93, yet this is not his highest career total. In 2008-2009, Reggie recorded 94 blocked shots (also third on the team), ranking only behind Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman. While he is being trusted by Ruff with more crucial ice time, his blocked shots and hits (56) were not career highs.

Thumbs Up: Another stat that supports Sekera's good season is his offensive zone starts versus his finishes. For this past season, Andrej started in the offensive zone 48.9% of the time during 5 on 5 play and finished in that zone 52.3% of the time. In other words, Sekera gets a majority of his starts in the defensive zone, yet he ends his shift the majority of the time in the offensive zone. This stat correlates well with his positive Relative Corsi, and this past season is the only time in his career where he has done that.

(For fairness, it seems that all of the "defensive" oriented blue liners on this team tend to have this occur: i.e. Regehr, Sulzer, and Weber)

Thumbs Down: It is hard to find a hole in Sekera's game this past season, but if there was a thumbs down, it had to be in point totals. While a defensive load could be to blame, Sekera's point/gm total dropped 50.6% in one season. I do value his defensive play greatly, but the almost 30 points he scored in 2010-2011 would have helped us this past season. Can Sekera continue his improved defensive play next season while increasing his point total? Or is his improvement in defensively play directly related to his drop off in points (i.e. he can't do both)? That will be interesting to see.

Voting: On a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, grade Andrej Sekera on his season according to the expectations you had for him. If he met them, give him a five or a six. If he eclipsed them, aim for a seven or beyond. If he failed to meet them, give him a lower number relating to how poorly he missed the target.

On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how would you rate Andrej Sekera for his 2011-12 season?