Bruins will start fresh with Seguin
LOS ANGELES — Last night at Staples Center, as soon as the Oilers announced they’d be drafting Taylor Hall with the first overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft, Tyler Seguin knew he’d become a Bruin.
“It feels amazing,’’ said Seguin, wearing a black-and-gold jersey with the No. 10 on the back. “I can’t really describe it. Maybe it’s like winning the Stanley Cup. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve had so far.’’
Courtesy of last September’s dump of Phil Kessel to Toronto and the Maple Leafs’ subsequent second-worst 2009-10 finish, the Bruins selected Seguin with the second overall pick and welcomed a center that general manager Peter Chiarelli has compared with Pat LaFontaine and Steven Stamkos.
“He’s a terrific player,’’ Chiarelli said. “He’s got a terrific skill set. He’s still growing. His improvement has been tremendous from one year to the next. He’s very smart. Terrific hockey sense, good stick, very underrated wrist shot. He’s got the whole package.’’
In the 6-foot-1-inch, 186-pound Seguin, the Bruins have another slick center to add to their mix.
Seguin saw some time at right wing as an OHL rookie for Plymouth coach Mike Vellucci. But this past season, Seguin was a pure center who was the target of opposing shutdown defenseman and checkers. Despite all the defensive attention, Seguin tied Hall for the OHL scoring lead, recording 48 goals and 58 assists.
“He pretty much carried our team on his shoulders,’’ Vellucci said. “One of the things we lacked was goal scoring. We had good defense and goaltending. He scored 40 percent of our goals and points. It was amazing.’’
It already has been a fast-paced offseason for a team unexpectedly bounced after the second round. Cam Neely, formerly the team’s vice president, now presides over the organization as president, with hockey and business operations reporting to the Hall of Famer.
Dennis Wideman, once the team’s No. 2 defenseman, was dispatched to South Florida in a deal that brought back Nathan Horton. The 25-year-old Horton, formerly considered so highly by the Panthers they left studs such as Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards, Corey Perry, and Shea Weber on the table in the 2003 draft, projects to be the club’s No. 1 right wing as the Bruins aim to jack up the league’s worst offense.
And to this mix, the Bruins added Seguin.
“As of today, we’ve added two huge pieces to our forwards,’’ said Chiarelli, referring to Seguin and Horton. “I’m happy with that. We’re just going to keep pushing forward to improve our team.’’
For months, the conversation roiled around Tyler or Taylor, Taylor or Tyler, as opinions flew like pucks around a rink on the two 18-year-olds. Hall is the more NHL-ready prospect, the left wing with the sandpaper game and two Memorial Cup MVPs already highlighting his curriculum vitae. Seguin is the shifty and smart center, never surrounded with as much talent as Hall. Seguin may not have the immediate big-league impact Hall projects to bring, but the reigning OHL Player of the Year could be the better NHLer when both hit the sweet spots of their careers.
During the buildup to last night, Chiarelli said he received three substantial offers for the No. 2 pick, all of them involving significant roster players.
Although Chiarelli didn’t include it among the three best offers, he said Edmonton counterpart Steve Tambellini inquired several times about landing the second pick, which would have given the Oilers both Hall and Seguin.
Chiarelli listened to all the offers, but cautioned rival GMs he would not be trading the selection — what turned out to be the biggest return in the Kessel trade — regardless of the package.
It mirrored teams’ pursuit of the second pick in 2008, a race Chiarelli entered with zero success, when he and others tried to convince the Kings to give up the pick, which Dean Lombardi used to draft Drew Doughty. The defenseman, a Norris Trophy finalist, projects to contend for many more titles as the NHL’s premier blue liner.
Seguin could find himself on the wing. Patrice Bergeron, who made the jump from the QMJHL to the NHL, broke in as a right wing. The Bruins have depth at center with Bergeron, David Krejci, and Marc Savard. If the Bruins don’t move Savard, Seguin could serve as the No. 2 right wing behind Horton.
“The one thing we know about Tyler — and he’s been pretty open about that — is that he can play center and he can play wing,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “We’ll wait and see what the puzzle ends up being and where he fits in after maybe another month or so. There’s obviously free agent signings, lot of things going on. There are still trades that could happen. We’re going to wait and see where the team sits in about a month from now. Then we’ll be able to get a better idea on where we want to put him. There’s no doubt that everybody seems to think he’ll be able to make the jump right away.’’
In 11 days, when the Bruins start the on-ice component of their development camp at Ristuccia Arena, a pair of sharp eyes will be trained on Seguin.
Three summers ago, when an 18-year-old Milan Lucic lumbered onto the Wilmington ice, Julien, just weeks into his job as Bruins coach, was watching. That fall, Lucic, who was expected to return to his junior team, made the big club.
“When I saw Lucic in his first camp, I sat up there and I told Peter, ‘He’s an intriguing player,’ ’’ Julien recalled. “His skating maybe wasn’t the greatest, but he did things that really jumped in my eyes. He came and made our team. So [where] do we evaluate players? I think that’s where it starts. I get a chance to see different players and certain things about different players that I’ve liked and brought up with our upper management. I sit up there and look at certain things players can bring. The next stage is being on the ice with the NHL players. Then you see how they adapt to that as well. It’s a good start. I think it’s a great thing. It gives me a better perspective on what I’m going to see at training camp.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.