At the heart of Thursday’s blockbuster deal between the Dallas Stars and the Boston Bruins is not just patience but the belief in the overarching power of time to transform potential into productivity.
At the end of the day, the Bruins did not believe enough that time was going to transform Tyler Seguin, the second overall pick in the 2010 draft, into a core member of their team, so they sent the 21-year-old packing to Dallas along with Rich Peverley and prospect Ryan Button in exchange for the undervalued Loui Eriksson and prospects Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and defenseman Joe Morrow, whom the Stars acquired from Pittsburgh in the Brenden Morrow deal at the trade deadline.
Seguin has showed flashes of the promise that saw him in a neck-and-neck race with Taylor Hall for the first overall selection in 2010. He helped the Bruins win a Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2011 and scored 29 goals in 2011-12 but did not fully become part of the Bruins community. Still a boy, he acted like it at times.
There were questions about his focus and commitment. This spring, Seguin scored only once in 22 postseason games as the Bruins were defeated by Chicago in six games in the Stanley Cup finals.
After failing to trade him before the end of the draft, GM Peter Chiarelli was blunt in saying Seguin needed to focus on being a pro.
Now Seguin will get to focus on that task in Dallas, where he will carry a $5.75 million cap hit through 2018-19. Clearly, new GM Jim Nill believes such a transformation can be accomplished. For a team that has missed the playoffs five straight years, Seguin represents an important piece of the foundation with the expectation he will contribute both immediately and down the road.
While Seguin was part of a deep, veteran group in Boston, he will face significant expectations in Dallas. It's hard to believe that Mark Recchi, who is an adviser for the Stars and has a long relationship with owner Tom Gaglardi, did not vouch for Seguin, with whom he played in Boston when the Bruins were Cup-bound in 2011.
Coach Lindy Ruff will likely return Seguin to his natural position at center, a position at which the Stars have been woefully thin, although it will take a certain leap of faith for Ruff to make such a move and will take some restoration of Seguin’s confidence to make it work to the Stars’ benefit.
Boston coach Claude Julien declined to make such a move during the playoffs when injuries necessitated a shuffling of the Bruins’ forward lines. Julien chose for the most part to leave Seguin as a third-line winger as opposed to giving him a shot as a second-line center.
The Stars also will get a useful, versatile player in Peverley, who saw his role change from the Bruins’ Cup-winning team in 2011 to this season, when he played mostly fourth-line minutes, although he did chip in on the Bruins’ second power-play unit.
If there is more risk financially and in terms of fit for the Stars, there is certainly more long-term upside with Seguin given his significant offensive skill set.
The Bruins were clearly OK with that kind of trade-off, and there could hardly be a more Bruins-friendly acquisition than Eriksson. The native of Goteborg, Sweden, and former Olympian doesn’t address the team’s gaping hole on the right side created by the departures of Nathan Horton and Jaromir Jagr to free agency, but Eriksson is all business and should be an instant favorite of Julien.
At 27, Eriksson is a solid two-way player who has a $4.25 million cap hit through 2015-16. He is a four-time 20-goal scorer who had 36 goals in 2008-09, and one wonders if he will make Bruins fans quickly forget Seguin. The question will be whether Stars fans will embrace the young center in a like fashion or end up lamenting Eriksson’s loss.