Before last nights game between the Maple Leafs and Stars, the focus on Leafs news varied. There was discussion regarding another injury to Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel leaving pracitce early, Cody Franson returning to the lineup, and many other subjects as well. The news surrounding the Stars though was the complete opposite. All eyes were in the return of #91 to the lineup, Tyler Seguin. Seguin has arguably been the best player for Dallas when healthy. 23 PTS in 24 GP on a offensively gifted line with Jamie Benn and either Valeri Nichushkin or Rich Peverly, he leads the team in goals with 12, has a +6 rating, all while averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time.
It seems hard to imagine then why any team would not want Seguin on their team, but we all know that was the case this past summer, as Seguin and Peverly were the main cogs of a trade which sent the two of them to Dallas, while the Bruins received Loui Eriksson in return. I’ve seen this question asked numerous times since the trade and again over the past few weeks, that being, will the Bruins end up regretting trading such a talented young man?
My answer: no. The first reason being, you cannot compare the numbers that Seguin is putting up in Dallas as something he would have done in Boston. I’ve stressed this point before when discussing Grabovski’s production in Washington, and it applies here as well. Seguin is scoring at an impressive almost point-per-game pace, but it is unlikely that would have happened in Boston for a number of reasons. First of all, he is playing top line minutes in Dallas, something that to this day he would not get the opportunity to do in Boston, which became evident when Seguin saw his ice time reduced to third line minutes in last years playoffs. During the playoffs, he only notched 8 PTS in 22 games, and a -2 rating. They didn’t want him playing on the top two lines, but why? That leads to my next point, in that Seguin never seemed to fit in in Boston. Whether it was first line, second line, centre, or right wing, Seguin just never seemed to gel in Boston. On the other hand, Loui Eriksson has fit in very well as a strict left winger on a hard working, yet offensive line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and not having to worry about where to place Seguin allowed the Bruins to sign Jarome Iginla to play right wing. Iggy has since formed one of the toughest lines in hockey alongside Krejci and “The Beast,” Milan Lucic. So in terms of point production and team chemistry it has been a win-win so far for both hockey clubs. Seguin gets top line minutes in Dallas, the Bruins gain two dominating lines.
Though the trade may be paying off now for both teams, what about in the near future, say three to five years from now? While Eriksson is in his prime and still fairly young at age 28, Seguin will only be turning 22 in January, meaning he has many years ahead until he reaches his prime. So will the Bruins regret the deal in the long haul? My answer is still no, BUT on one condition. That condition being they will not regret the deal, as long as Eriksson can assist them on a run to winning the Cup. As a whole, I still think the Bruins are the best team in the NHL, and could be a Cup favourite for the next two-three years with the core they have. If they can win a Cup during this time with Eriksson adequately contributing to a championship, than the deal will be worth it, regardless of what Seguin does in Dallas.
I could see someone raising a counter point of, “Nick, even if the Bruins win a Cup with Eriksson, it’s just one Cup, what if Seguin has 10 good years in Dallas?” If Eriksson does prove to be the final piece of the championship puzzle, the trade should be justified, and history has proven that. There have been many instances of having to give up talent to net that final puzzle piece. Lets go back to 1988. The Calgary Flames were an offensively gifted team. They had Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts, Hakan Loob, Doug Gilmour, among others, and two offensive defensemen in Al MacInnis and Gary Suter. They were missing a real shutdown D-man though, prompting Cliff Fletcher to make the deal sending Brett Hull to St. Louis for Rob Ramage and Rick Walmsley. Ramage is considered by many to be the final piece of the puzzle, and was extremely valuable eating up minutes, especially when Suter broke his jaw. A similar trade occurred in 1995, when the Flames sent Nieuwendyk to Dallas. A few years later, Nieuwendyk was a key piece for the Stars, and would win a Conn Smythe Trophy while leading the Stars to a Cup in 1999. The price Dallas paid was that they gave up a young kid named Jarome Iginla. Of course both Hull and Iginla had great careers with their respective teams, but it ended up being worth it, as both Calgary and Dallas were able to acquire that final piece to capture the title.
Though Seguin is playing well in Dallas, and may continue to do so for years to come, Eriksson is gelling just as well in Boston. If Loui can be the final piece the Bruins need to add another Cup in the near future, the trade will have been worth it.