BOSTON – The adjustment to the NHL got a little easier this week for Boston Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin, the highly touted No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
Seguin had been projected to move from centre to wing because of the Bruins’ depth down the middle. But with Marc Savard out indefinitely with post-concussion syndrome, Boston has been able to work out Seguin at centre for his first couple days of training camp.
The 18-year-old is expected to continue to play centre while Savard is out, which means more responsibility and an onus to take care of the defensive end without sacrificing too much on offence. Seguin scored 106 points last season with Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League.
“I think it starts with adapting,” Seguin said Sunday, after he skated for a second straight day on a line with veteran Mark Recchi and second-year pro Jeff LoVecchio.
“You find your comfort zone,” Seguin said. “You’ve got to go into the NHL or any new league with confidence, know your game, and play it, and learn all the little things as you go.”
While Seguin is not guaranteed to make the NHL team, it’s widely expected he will make the jump from the junior ranks. If he doesn’t make the Bruins’ roster, he has to return to Plymouth.
Impressing Bruins head coach Claude Julien will take more than just scoring goals.
Julien always demands a high level of defensive play from all his players, so he’ll be watching Seguin closely to detect any bad habits that might’ve formed with a player who was so much better than his peers at the junior level. Julien said he already addressed one minor issue after watching Seguin in the Bruins’ rookie games earlier this week.
“As a centreman you’ve got to be a little bit more patient in your own end. When he played those (rookie) games he was really wanting to produce offensively, and sometimes he was a little quick leaving the zone,” Julien said. “It’s just explaining to him why.
“First of all, you become a better outlet. Second of all, when you come down low and you help out and you get the puck, you have time to lift your head up and see what’s in front of you. If you’re too far ahead, in this league here, by the time you get the puck you’re going to have somebody right in your face. So it’s maybe explaining a little bit the thinking behind and the understanding of it. Players like him catch on pretty quick.”
In picking a mentor to help Seguin catch on, the Bruins couldn’t have done any better than the 42-year-old Recchi. Julien said that combining them was by design.
A likely Hall-of-Famer with two Stanley Cup wins, more than 1,500 games played and more than 550 goals, Recchi previously played with current NHL stars Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, and Eric and Jordan Staal early in their careers.
“He’s damn fast. I had to keep up with him so it’s good, it’s good for me,” Recchi said of Seguin. “He could be my son, so … it’s good, I have to keep up with him. He’s a good skater and it looks like he has great skills. I’m going to have some fun with him and work with him and it looks like he really wants to learn.
“He’s asking coaches questions, and that’s great. If there’s anything I see I’ll help.”
Seguin has embraced the notion of leaning on Recchi for guidance.
“He’s just so experienced, he’s got the saucer pass and there’s definitely a lot of skill there. You can see he knows the NHL quite well because he can really find the pockets out there and find the seams, even in practice,” Seguin said.
“Obviously, when you’re older, you’ve always still got to have a high tempo. So he’s always doing that, motivating everyone, being a leader and always giving advice even when he’s needed.”