In the hours leading up the 2013 NHL Draft, a firestorm was sparked when various hockey insiders began to send out some tweets regarding Tyler Seguin.
This was a big one, for example:
Taken as gospel, trade speculation began to spread, with Tampa Bay and Calgary emerging as possible destinations for packages that included either the 3rd or 6th pick in the Draft, respectively. At the same time, the narrative that Tyler Seguin is young and immature began to strengthen, and the Boston Bruins fan base responded with reactions ranging from the dramatic to the reasonable, from full acceptance to logical deniability.
In the end, Tyler Seguin remains a member of the Boston Bruins as of Canada Day, but not without some strong words uttered from GM Peter Chiarelli.
He’s got to commit his mind and focus to the one task at hand. He’s got to become more of a professional. You know what? I can say that about a lot of 21-year-olds. I know he got criticized for playing on the periphery and all that stuff. He did. He’s got to commit to being a professional and focusing on the game. Simple as that. He does that, we don’t expect him to be crashing and banging. Just play your game.
And when asked if the trade speculation might motivate Seguin in some way, Chiarelli said this:
I hope it does. If it doesn’t, I’d be more concerned. We gave Tyler a big contract because he projects and he had good performance. I would expect that going forward. (Boston.com, June 30 2013)
Here’s the thing about all that: while Chiarelli is said to be looking for an “elite young player or prospect in return“, there’s no way of verifying if he was indeed serious about actually trading him. Maybe this was floated out there just to scare him a little bit; maybe the Bruins, on Draft weekend, were sending out the message that, just like the kids who stood with Gary in Jersey, big things are expected from #2 picks, and Seguin needs to start delivering.
The reality is that he scored 29 goals in his second season in the NHL, and was on track to pot 27 in 2013 over the course of an 82 game season. A 2 goal regression isn’t much to get all worked up about, especially when he was on track to eclipse his 2011-12 shot total by 35. Maybe he’s not getting to the dirty areas enough and needs to do more to create chances, but the production isn’t far off from what he and his contract are projected to produce.
Of course, it’s the 2013 playoff story that everyone’s looking to, and Seguin’s 1 goal and 7 assists in 22 games. Lost in that story is the fact that Seguin was demoted to the 3rd line in favour of Jaromir Jagr (he of 0 playoff goals) for much of the playoffs, messing with the chemistry built with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and forcing him to produce alongside the likes of Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and (later, and successfully) Dan Paille. If he stays up in the top 6, maybe he scores a few more and all this trade chatter is non-existent. It’s still on him to score, but he wasn’t exactly put in a position to break out with those line mates.
One more note to end: if the Bruins were so concerned with Tyler Seguin development and maturation, maybe he would have been better served spending another year in the OHL before he was called upon to produce at the NHL level. While the top 3-4 picks are often expected to jump right to the pro ranks, maybe a tap of the brakes on their trajectories is what is good and right in the long run. This is especially true if the Bruins don’t trust him at the C spot – give him more time to develop at that position in junior so that he’s ready for those responsibilities at the pro level.
Seguin has experienced quick success and is earning big dollars at a young age, but it doesn’t mean he’s been put in a position to handle it properly, and that’s partly on the Bruins organization.
Also, if the Bruins are in the business of calling players out, where’s the word to Brad Marchand, he who had 0 goals in the Final and was far less visible than Seguin in those 6 games? Just a thought.
In short, does Tyler Seguin need to mature? Yup, most 21 year olds do. As Pierre McGuire stated on TSN during the Draft, things have come easy for him and he’s been able to enjoy a mix of personal and team success in his first 3 years in the league. But you can’t ignore the fact that he is young, that he has benefited from growing in this system, and that the best (likely, hopefully) is ahead.
Chiarelli said as much in terms of his contract – it’s based on what they believe he will become, so why give up on him just as it kicks in?
The trade talk over the weekend seemed like a smokescreen from Bruins to make a message public, and that message is to keep moving on and up, to take things to the next level. The Bruins and their fans have been waiting for Tyler Seguin to become a superstar, and the time to do so is now. The message has been sent, and it’s time to see if it’s been received and processed.
If Tyler Seguin doesn’t come out firing in October, all bets are off in terms of his tenure in Boston.