By Allan Muir
Talk about July 4th fireworks. TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting that the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars have completed a multiplayer swap centered around 2010 second-overall pick Tyler Seguin.
Along with Seguin, versatile forward Rich Peverley and prospect Ryan Button would reportedly head to Dallas.
Loui Eriksson would be the key get for Boston, with minor leaguers Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow also rumored to be part of the deal.
While the idea of Boston giving up so quickly on a player with such immense potential defies logic, this deal is all about windows of opportunity.
The Bruins are capable of contending for the Stanley Cup for the next three-five years. Eriksson, who turns 28 this month, is a former All-Star and a perennial Selke contender whose two-way game fits perfectly with Boston’s style of play. Although he could replace Nathan Horton on the top line, Eriksson might be a better fit alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on the second unit, where he could rediscover the 70-point form that deserted him last season.
Seguin’s name will dominate the headlines, but at this moment, Eriksson is clearly the best player in this trade.
The Bruins also pick up a trio of prospects to add a little depth to a pool that’s been depleted over the past year. Fraser, who just signed a one-year deal last week with the Stars, scored 70 goals for AHL Texas over the past two years. The 6-foot-3, 204-pound left winger is highly regarded for his character and work ethic, but needs to get his skating up to speed to realize his potential at the next level.
Morrow, who was traded to Dallas earlier this year, was the 23rd overall pick in 2011. The 20-year-old has size (6-1, 206) and all the tools he needs to become a point producer from the back end, but he needs to continue working on his commitment in his own zone. He has the talent to swing this trade heavily in Boston’s favor if he puts it all together.
Smith, who tallied 102 points over his final two seasons with the Miami Redhawks, has thrilling offensive tools, skates well but there are questions about his strength and his play away from the puck. Still, he could see time with the big club this season.
It’s a hefty package, but one the Stars could afford to give up in exchange for a player they hope will be their first-line center when their own window of opportunity opens four or five years down the road.
Seguin never quite hit his stride during his third NHL season, and his goal-scoring struggles during the playoffs were a nightly topic of discussion. He was the target of some tough love from Boston GM Peter Chiarelli after the team lost to Chicago in the Stanley Cup Final.
“He’s got to commit his mind and focus to the one task at hand,” Chiarelli told the Boston Globe. “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.”
Seguin’s game, when he’s on it, is a high-speed joyride. He has a terrific shot, but it is his abilities as a high-end playmaker who can maximize the effectiveness of his wingers that really intrigues the Stars. He’s been projected as a player who could score 90 points once he reaches his prime.
Seguin also is key to the ongoing rebranding of the franchise. Dallas hasn’t boasted much of an identity since the last members of the 1999 Cup team faded away, so adding a name player with a little Mike Modano-style flash to his game is exactly what the Stars need to help sell tickets.
Peverley, like Seguin, is a natural center, which would allow the Stars to move Jamie Benn back to the wing — a stated goal for the franchise heading into next season. Peverley brings veteran savvy, speed and versatility to the Stars and provides valuable insurance in the event that Eric Nystrom signs elsewhere as a free agent.
Button, a 22-year-old defenseman, has never managed to nurture his obvious gifts into a complete game. He’ll likely top out at the AHL level.
Although this is primarily a hockey deal, there’s always a financial element in any trade these days. The 2013-14 season marks the first of a six-year deal that will pay Seguin an average of $5.75 million per year. Peverley has two years left on a deal that averages $3.25 million. Eriksson has three years remaining on a contract that averages $4.25 million, so the Bruins carved out nearly $5 million of cap space. That’ll help as they commit long-term dollars to both Tuukka Rask and Patrice Bergeron, and will allow Chiarelli to be an active bidder as free agency officially opens tomorrow.
There’s a chance the Bruins lose big over time in this deal. That’s obviously a risk they were willing to take. Short term though, it looks like both sides got exactly what they needed.