TORONTO – The door opens for the dressing room of the NHL’s hottest team and all of the cameras immediately gravitate to one player: Tyler Seguin.
It’s just another morning availability in a road arena for the Boston Bruins forward, who appears to be on the verge of becoming the league’s next big thing. Not only is Seguin piling up the points—he needed just 20 games to surpass his rookie total of a year ago—but he’s started to draw a big crowd wherever he goes.
In fact, teammate Chris Kelly dropped the word “superstar” when answering a question about Seguin on Wednesday morning at Air Canada Centre. Wait … superstar?
“Yeah, I think so,” said Kelly. “He’s 19 years old. Most 19-year-old guys are playing junior hockey getting $50 a week. They’re not being a consistent point producer in the NHL on a good hockey team (who) won a Stanley Cup.
“The sky’s the limit for him. I think it’s in his hands how far he wants to go.”
For his part, Seguin makes no secret of where he expects to end up. He carries the confidence of a big-time scorer—he had 106 points for Plymouth in his last of junior—and has been among the NHL leaders all season. He plans to remain there for years to come.
“I look at it as somewhere I want to be for sure,” said Seguin.
Adding to the teenager’s star appeal is a flair for the dramatic that all special players seem to enjoy. Recall Seguin’s two-goal, four-point performance in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final against Tampa Bay last spring after he’d been a healthy scratch through the first two rounds. Or even that he registered his first career NHL hat trick on “Hockey Night in Canada” during Boston’s visit to Toronto on Nov. 5.
Seguin is also bound to be followed closely because of the manner in which he entered the NHL. A debate raged for months about whether he or Taylor Hall should be selected No. 1 in the 2010 draft—and the fact he ended up going second overall with a pick Boston acquired from the Maple Leafs for Phil Kessel only added to the interest.
On Wednesday morning, he expressed relief after getting through a media scrum in Toronto without being asked about Kessel.
“That is definitely a record,” said Seguin. “I cannot believe it. That’s why I want to get out right now.”
Just as important as the 23 points he carried into play Wednesday was the league-leading plus-19 rating he’d earned through 22 games. Kelly says the Bruins have seen a more consistent effort from Seguin at both ends of the ice this season.
Another change has started to come from opponents.
“I think right now being the leading scorer on our team, there’s no doubt other teams are going to pay more attention to him,” said coach Claude Julien. “Now he’s got to overcome that challenge of teams playing harder than they did maybe at the beginning of the season when they probably didn’t respect him as much as they do now. That’s another area he’s going to have to grow in.
“I have confidence in his personality and his demeanour and all that stuff that he can overcome that.”
If he does, the amount of attention he receives will only grow. Some teammates are already growing weary of questions about Seguin, but they better get used to it.
“Everywhere you go you’re hearing about Tyler,” said Bruins forward Brad Marchand. “He’s obviously a hot topic right now.”
Seguin is far from the only young NHL player turning heads this season. Here’s a look at three more players on the verge of stardom:
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers: One of the NHL’s leading scorers is also one of its most complete players. Giroux does it all for the Flyers: In addition to scoring 13 goals and 29 points in 23 games, he’s also logged significant minutes on the penalty kill. Giroux first broke out during Philadelphia’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup final and appears to have hit a new gear this season while playing alongside Jaromir Jagr. Adding to the 23-year-old’s appeal is his small-town charm and fluency in both English and French.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: Downright dynamic with the puck, the third-year NHLer led all defencemen in scoring heading into Wednesday’s games. While occasionally a risk defensively, the smooth-skating Swede is a treat to watch. As a budding star in a Canadian market, he’ll get more exposure than most as the season progresses, particularly with the all-star game scheduled to be played at Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place at the end of January.
Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes: Already a rock star in Raleigh, the reigning rookie of the year is poised to start getting even more attention around the league. He’s demonstrated no signs of a sophomore slump and remains on pace for another 30-goal season. Skinner is also as polite and humble as they come, making him an ideal spokesman for the league.