While July 1 normally marks the start of free agency in the hockey world, that arguably took the back seat to a blockbuster trade on July 4 almost four years ago.
Two years after winning the Stanley Cup, the Boston Bruins moved one of their youngest, brightest stars just after free agency started – shocking the hockey world. Now, nearly four years after the fact, questions remain as to why the Bruins traded away Tyler Seguin in a deal that netted them next to nothing a few seasons later.
Before we get to that, though, let’s look back on the lead up to this deal for the Bruins.
Welcome to Beantown
To start with, the Bruins never would’ve had the chance to draft Seguin had it not been for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their interest in Phil Kessel. The Leafs moved their 2010 first-round pick (Seguin), 2010 second-round pick (Jared Knight) and 2011 first-round pick (Dougie Hamilton) while acquiring the eventual hot-and-cold sniper – Kessel.
Boston would eventually move all three of those assets – including Hamilton to Calgary and Knight to the Minnesota Wild – but not before Seguin made a name for himself with the Bruins’ club.
Following his draft year, Seguin made his debut with the Bruins in 2010-11 scoring 11 goals and 22 points in 74 games. He would play the next two seasons with the club, accumulating 121 regular season points in 203 games with the Bruins before he was moved during the 2013 offseason.
He also won his first Stanley Cup with the Bruins in his rookie year, adding seven points in 13 games. He would see playoff action in all three of his seasons with Boston collecting 18 points in 42 games over that span.
In September 2012, the Bruins signed the centre to a six-year extension at $5.75-million per season – a deal that doesn’t expire until after the 2018-19 season. The deal actually makes him one of the best bargains in the NHL right now considering the money that is being thrown around for top-end centres right now.
But for whatever reason – many have been speculated – the Bruins decided to move the 21-year-old following the 2012-13 season. The Dallas Stars ended up being the perfect trade partner for the Bruins and the young forward was shipped to Dallas on July 4, 2013.
The Seguin Trade
Why had Seguin been shipped out so early in his career and with so much potential in his game?
While some noted his on-ice struggles in the postseason against Toronto as a possible reason for him being moved, his parents believed that it had to do with some off-ice activities that the Bruins might not have been too pleased with.
“Him having a good time occasionally, and it being in the media, this was something that the Bruins thought should never happen,” said Paul Seguin according to the Toronto Star. “Even if it happened once or twice or three times, the Bruins didn’t like this happening even once.”
Whatever the reasons, the Bruins shipped the 21-year-old to the Stars along with Rich Peverley and defenceman Ryan Button in exchange for forward Loui Eriksson and three prospects (Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser).
At the time, Eriksson was just 28. He brought a lot of experience and potential to the Bruins and offered more of what the Bruins were looking for off the ice than they got in the young Seguin.
While it didn’t sit well with a number of Bruins fans, hockey fans in Dallas were about to get a taste of the raw talent that Seguin possessed which made him the second overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Where Are They Now?
To say that Seguin has been an impact player for the Stars since his arrival would be an understatement. The chemistry that he almost immediately built up with teammate Jamie Benn gave Stars’ management and fans a taste of what he brought to the table.
Over four seasons with the Stars, Seguin’s played in 305 regular season games collecting 133 goals and 306 points. His point total lands him 10th all-time in franchise scoring and really dictates how important he’s been to this franchise over the past four seasons.
While he hasn’t been able to help get the Stars deep into the postseason yet, he has added three points in seven postseason games since joining Dallas.
Peverley was 31 when he was traded to the Stars alongside Seguin. He played 62 games for Dallas during the 2013-14 season scoring seven goals and 30 points, but his season and career came to an abrupt end in his first year with the club when he collapsed on the Stars bench during a game on March 11, 2014.
The cardiac event eventually ended Peverley’s NHL career.
Ryan Button split the 2013-14 season between the AHL’s Texas Stars and the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads. He racked up 26 points in 59 games between the two leagues, but never made the NHL. He left to play in Germany’s DEL in 2014 and has played with the Iserlohn Roosters since then.
On the other side of the trade, Eriksson played three seasons with the Bruins following the trade. Over 224 regular season games, Ericsson notched 62 goals and 147 points for the B’s and added five points in 12 postseason games during the team’s 2013-14 run.
Following the 2015-16 season, Eriksson’s contract expired and he became a free agent. Rather than re-up, he signed a six-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks worth $6-million per year.
Morrow has scattered 65 regular season games with the Bruins over the past three seasons. He has nine points to show for it and joined the club for five postseason games in 2016-17. He’ll likely still find himself fighting for a roster spot come 2017-18.
Smith played two seasons with the Bruins following the trade collecting 33 goals and 91 points in 163 regular season games. The Bruins eventually traded Smith to the Florida Panthers on July 1, 2015, along with Marc Savard’s contract for Jimmy Hayes.
Hayes has played 133 games for the Bruins over the past two seasons, but only has 34 points and averages just under 12 minutes per game since joining the club. Hayes is under contract for one more year with a $2.3-million cap hit for the 2017-18 season.
Finally, Fraser played just 38 games for the Bruins split between 2013-14 and 2014-15. After the Bruins placed him on waivers, he was claimed by the Oilers who let him walk following the season. He was signed to a one-year deal by the Jets ahead of the 2015-16 season, shipped to Chicago in the Andrew Ladd deal and hasn’t signed an NHL contract since.
Seguin’s Impact Makes Stars Winners
To say the Bruins shot themselves in the foot with this trade would be an understatement. Sure, they’ve made the playoffs two out of the four years since the Tyler Seguin trade, but they’ve never really looked like the same team.
The Bruins have next to nothing left from the trade – with Morrow and Hayes the remaining pieces. While Morrow has a chance to still become something, Hayes likely won’t be a Bruin past the 2017-18 season.
In Dallas, Seguin’s dealt with a few injuries over the past couple of seasons and hasn’t been able to take the Stars deep into the playoffs, but has had an impact. He averages a point per game during the regular season and plays more of a leadership role with the club now as he’s heading into the back end of his 20s.
He still has two years left on his current contract and the price tag is reasonable – giving the Stars the opportunity to build around him and Benn for the next couple of years. While the Stars haven’t made it past the second round since acquiring the forward, Seguin has the potential to be a game-changer and looks to do so on a team that clearly values his on-ice abilities.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.