BOSTON – The Bruins continued their pre-lockout signing strategy Tuesday, agreeing with forward Tyler Seguin on a six-year, US$34 million contract extension.
Seguin, 20, led Boston with 29 goals and 67 points last season, and posted a plus-34 rating. In and out of the lineup as a rookie in 2010-11, when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, Seguin cemented his place on the team last year, and played in the 2012 all-star game in Ottawa.
Seguin was the No. 2 overall pick by Boston in 2010, and had 22 points in his rookie season as Boston defeated Vancouver in seven games to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins were eliminated last season in the first round by the Washington Capitals.
On Friday, they locked up forward Brad Marchand to a new, four-year deal. The feisty Marchand, 24, a key cog in the Bruins’ run to the 2011 Cup, will make $4.5 million per season, starting in 2013-14. He is scheduled to make $3 million in the coming season, the last of his two-year contract.
Seguin’s salary begins with a $4.5 million salary in 2013-14 and ends with a salary of $6.5 million in 2018-19. The contract averages $5.75 million per year.
“We’ve tried to be relatively proactive in extending contracts for guys prior to the start of the season and we’re trying to keep our core together,” Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday. “It’s part and parcel of that in what we’re trying to do.
“It may fly in the face of the labour situation at this time, but we feel very strongly in the core of our team,” he said. “(They’re) players that we know and I think that’s important: Players that we know, that have given us service.”
Despite his youth, Seguin thinks he can be a leader on the Bruins.
“I adapt to new situations well. I’m a confident player,” he said during a conference call with Chiarelli. “I feel like I’ve settled in. … I don’t look at my age as a factor. I want to be a leader even at the age of 20.”
He said he received advice about how to act on and off the ice from former Bruins forward Mark Recchi, who retired after the 2010-11 season. And “it’s a great feeling” that the Bruins, by offering him a long-term deal, “have faith and trust in me.”
Chiarelli is impressed by Seguin’s development in his two seasons.
“He’s a young, exciting player,” Chiarelli said. “He’s maturing before our eyes, and I feel with the hard work that he’s shown us and the willingness to put in that hard work and to continue to improve, I think the sky’s the limit for Tyler.”
Deciding whether to sign players during the uncertain labour situation, is an “inexact science,” Chiarelli said, but “we’re trying to lock up our younger players and, in the context of a new CBA, I’m taking the approach that if we have to shuffle our roster, delete from our roster, to get to a level of salary, then it will be hard from the perspective of trading players, but I’d rather have the player. I’d rather have him locked up.
“I feel there’ll be flexibility enough if we have to make changes under a new system.”
Most Bruins have gathered in and around Boston this week, in time for a training camp that likely won’t happen. But the team still held its golf outing on Monday, where the lockout was an obvious hot topic.
“You work for the owners and you work with the players,” Boston coach Claude Julien said Monday. “It’s just a matter of staying out of it and respecting both sides.”
The Bruins rookies were scheduled to report on Friday, with the veterans starting training camp on Sept. 21. The NHL season is scheduled to start on Oct. 11. But goaltender Tuukka Rask, understandably, doesn’t sound optimistic.
“I hear November, December and New Year’s,” he said Monday. “But no one really knows.”
Regardless of the labour uncertainty, Seguin is sure of one thing.
“I started my career here. I fell in love with my first visit,” he said. “I’m a Bruin.”