A year ago today, the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars delivered their own version of Fourth of July fireworks.
On July 4, 2013, general manager Peter Chiarelli and the B's pulled the trigger on a true blockbuster deal, as Boston flipped 21-year-old and former #2 overall pick Tyler Seguin, along with Rich Peverley, to the Dallas Stars for Loui Eriksson and prospects Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow, signalling an admission of failure on the part of trying to morph the game of Boston's future superstar into their image.
|Playing like a (super) Star: Tyler Seguin excelled in his first year in Dallas (via NHL.com)|
It was a cracking trade to make for Boston, as it was the final word on cancelling the Seguin project just three years into it's existence. The clock on the highly skilled, and highly criticized, Seguin had hit midnight.
Seguin couldn't get out of his own way in Boston's playoff run last year, scoring just a single goal in 22 postseason games. At the end of the season, both Chiarelli, coach Claude Julien and the rest of the Bruins brass had seen all they needed to know a change needed to be made. For patience, there was none left. Seguin still had the chance to become the All-Pro talent he was projected to be, but he would not do so in a Bruin jersey.
Throughout his three years as a Bruin, Seguin was constantly critiqued for his inability to play with any sort of edge in his game. He was disinterested in digging in the corners and fighting for loose pucks in the scrum, something the Bruins pride themselves on perfecting as a team. For all of his skill, talent and speed, Seguin was sufficiently lacking in physicality, toughness and grit.
But things were different in Dallas. Coach Lindy Ruff allowed Seguin to play his game. As a Star, Seguin bagged 37 goals and 47 assists for 84 total points, good for fourth in the NHL in scoring and just three points off of Ryan Getzlaf for second place. Skating with Jamie Benn on Dallas' top line, Seguin exploded and took the Stars to their first postseason appearance in six seasons. In a turn of three months, Seguin became the franchise center he was billed as when coming into the league in 2010.
But the Bruins didn't come out looking too shabby themselves. Both Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith, with the latter actually outplaying the centerpiece coming back to Boston in the deal, became integral pieces to the Bruins success this past season. Even though he was mired in a mid-season slump, Smith was able to crack the 20 goal mark and finished with 51 points on the year. Eriksson had a harder time adjusting to Julien's system and was beset by concussion problems early in the year, but as the year wound down, he found his game when skating with fellow Swede Carl Soderberg.
|Eriksson (21) and Smith became everyday contributors to the cause in '13-'14 (via lightning.nhl.com)|
With the plethora of talent up the middle already established in the form of David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron for the B's, playing Seguin in his natural center position was not an option. So Seguin was left to play on the wing and learn the intricacies of the position. He was unable to adjust and blossom, leading to the Bruins to give up on trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. He was freed from the confines of Julien's system, slid in as a center and benefited in a more offensive, free-flowing system with the Stars. And as it turned out, Seguin discovered his true potential.
So who won the trade? The Stars are maximizing the skills Seguin has to their utmost benefit, and the future hasn't looked this bright in Big D for some time. Seguin has the Stars primed to become a high-scoring, very entertaining team for years to come, something they were looking for when trading for the wonderkid.
As for the B's, with the flash of potential shown by Matt Fraser vs Montreal in the playoffs, there's a real possibility the Bruins could be dressing three full-time starters come October, and if you're a believer in three outweighing the price of one, the Bruins have come out golden on their end, too.
But if we had to pick a winner, the Stars have the upper hand. The Stars targeted Seguin to become their franchise center, and he became that and then some for Dallas. The Bruins may have three everyday contributors in their lineup as a result, but until Eriksson and Smith (especially Eriksson) pot 25-30 goals a year and become premier scoring threats for Boston, they can't say they got the better of the deal.
But that's why they play the game. Eriksson and Smith will both share an increased workload in the upcoming season. As will Seguin in attempting to bring Dallas back to the playoffs for a second consecutive year. But at this point in time, a year removed from the trade, the Stars can say they got the better of the deal, even if the margins are razor thin.