In a six-minute, 33-second interview on Tuesday afternoon, Tyler Seguin used the words “disappointed” or “disappointing” four times to describe his contract situation with the Dallas Stars. That was probably by design. But whatever the intent, it was not good news for the Stars.
Seguin has one year left on his deal with the Dallas Stars and has been eligible to sign an extension since July 1. The only problem is there has been no dialogue between Seguin’s camp and the Stars since the NHL draft in June and with every passing day the possibility grows that Seguin could become the John Tavares of the 2018-19 season. There was no sense of frustration in Seguin’s voice, but it’s clear he’s both surprised and perplexed by the lack of traction in negotiations.
“I’ve been disappointed that it hasn’t happened,” Seguin said at the 2018 BioSteel Pro Hockey Camp in Toronto. “The expectations were that it would be earlier this summer and there hasn’t been much talk, so I’m back to work. I have one year left and that’s been my focus. I’m ready to go and I’m looking forward to getting back (to Dallas) next week.”
The parallels between Seguin’s situation this summer and Tavares’ last summer are a little scary if you’re a Stars fan. Prior to signing his seven-year, $77 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs over the summer, Tavares played out a six-year deal with the New York Islanders that totaled $33 million for a $5.5 million cap hit. Seguin is entering the final year of a six-year deal that will pay him a total of $34.5 million for a cap hit of $5.75 million. And if Seguin and Tavares were comparables five years ago when Seguin signed his deal, not a lot has changed since then. In fact, you could argue that Seguin is actually a better player than Tavares based on his production. (Of course, Tavares did not have the luxury of playing alongside one of the best left wingers in the game in Jamie Benn.) In the past five years, Seguin has actually outscored Tavares 384-372 and Seguin’s 173 goals in that time span ties him for second with Sidney Crosby, behind only Alex Ovechkin. Tavares has 160 goals in the past five seasons, good for eighth in the league.
So if Tavares was worth a contract averaging $11 million a season this past summer, what does that make a player of Seguin’s ilk worth? It’s also probably worth noting that by July 1 of next summer, Seguin will be five months younger than Tavares when he signed and as much progress as Tavares has made in his skating, Seguin is far better at getting around the ice. When asked whether he sees any similarities between his situation and the Tavares situation, he said, “That’s not my focus right now. My focus is to get myself in the best shape and best condition I can to do everything I can for my teammates.”
At the moment, the Stars have the luxury of being the only team that can ink Seguin to an eight-year deal, as opposed to the seven-year pact Tavares signed with Maple Leafs this summer. But the question is, would the Stars be willing to go higher than the eight-year, $76 million contract that kicked in for Benn last season? If not, it might not be enough to keep Seguin around. (TheHockeyNews.com put in a call to Stars GM Jim Nill that was not returned. We will update if we hear from him.)
But one thing is certain. Nothing is going to get done if the two sides don’t start talking soon. Seguin indicated that he has no problem with negotiations dragging into the season and hasn’t considered setting any deadlines, but the danger is that the longer this situation drags out, the more likely Seguin will be to test the waters of free agency. Remember last summer when there seemed to be so much time to get Tavares signed to a new deal? Remember how that all ended up turning out?
Seguin has made it clear that Dallas is his home and he wants to return there, but then again, Tavares was saying all those things about the Islanders last summer. Money will not be the only factor for Seguin because every player wants to play where he has a chance to win. And that might be one advantage the Stars have with Seguin over what the Islanders had with Tavares.
“I envision giving my all this year and getting back in the playoffs,” Seguin said. “It’s been a long few summers of no deep runs and the goal since I touched down in Dallas was to get deep in the playoffs. That’s my focus and I’m looking forward to getting to know my coaches more. They seem real excited and they’re definitely making me excited.”