CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks traded Ryan Garbutt to Anaheim on Thursday in exchange for Jiri Sekac as the two teams swapped forwards.
Garbutt has two goals and four assists in 43 games with Chicago, which acquired him from Dallas last July in the deal sending Patrick Sharp to the Stars. The physical 30-year-old has 32 goals and 44 assists over 241 career games, playing a valuable two-way role for his club.
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."
The 23-year-old Sekac has one goal and two assists in 22 games with Anaheim this season, but he failed to find a permanent lineup spot with his second NHL team in two seasons. In 69 games last season with the Ducks and Montreal, he had 23 points and 22 penalty minutes.
Sekac's speed and skill are tantalizing, but the 23-year-old Czech wing hasn't been able to sustain solid NHL play.
He missed about six weeks early in the current season with an ankle injury, and he hasn't scored a goal in 16 games since Oct. 22 for the Ducks, frequently sitting as a healthy scratch. Anaheim is the NHL's lowest-scoring team by far, managing just 91 goals in 45 games.