Much of the focus of the blockbuster trade that sent Tyler Seguin from the Boston Bruins to the Dallas Stars for Loui Eriksson centered around how the Bruins had traded for now and the Stars for the future. But when you look more closely at the deal, that’s not really the case.
Let’s start with the players involved in the deal. The three players the Stars are getting – Seguin, Rich Peverley and defense prospect Ryan Button – carry an average age of 24.9. The four players the Bruins acquire – Eriksson, defense prospect Joe Morrow, right wing prospect Reilly Smith and left wing prospect Matt Fraser – have an average age of 23.5. And Eriksson isn’t a player who should be on the downside of his career. He turns 28 in two weeks and could conceivably contribute in the NHL for another decade.
The key to this deal from the Stars perspective hinges on two things. First, will Seguin be able to handle the on-ice responsibility of being a No. 1 center after spending increasing time as a right winger in his three years with the Bruins? And second, and this is a big one, is Seguin’s well-documented off-ice activity the product of a 21-year-old who had too much success too early and will eventually get it, or is this a portent of things to come?
It’s not an easy question to answer. Chances are, it’s the former and not the latter. Remember, fans of the Chicago Blackhawks were calling for Patrick Kane to be dealt last summer when yet another crop of pictures surfaced over the Internet of his lost weekend in Wisconsin. Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, who knows Kane better than anyone else, had faith that Kane would finally learn from his indiscretions and he was rewarded for his faith when Kane put together a terrific season that culminated with a Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
It’s certainly conceivable Seguin will view this trade the same way. The Bruins have basically given up on him, despite signing him to a five-year contract extension worth $34.5 million that kicks in this coming season, because of the fits and starts on the ice and the growing concerns off it. A lot of young men have come to the realization in their early 20s that they had to be more devoted to their craft and became star players. Then again, though, there’s no shortage of players who never seemed to get that message and spent much of their careers wasting their God-given talents.
But if Seguin refocuses and adjusts to being the go-to centerman on his team, the Stars not only win this trade, but they do so in a rout. Regardless, though, the Bruins look as though they’ve improved themselves in the short term. In Eriksson, they know exactly what they’re getting – an above-average two-way winger who is equally adept at scoring goals and setting them up when he’s at his best. Despite slumping to the equivalent of a 50-point performance this season in Dallas, Eriksson has proved to be a consistent producer capable of scoring somewhere in the 70-point range.
Boston also gets Morrow, a promising defenseman who is already on his third NHL organization despite the fact he’s only 20 and has yet to play a game in the NHL. If Morrow develops to his full potential, the Bruins will have another top-quality young defenseman to add to their ranks. That’s because Morrow is seen as the total package, a player who can play both ends of the ice, be a big-minute shutdown guy if need be, play the point on the power play and be a physical force. But there is a question with him, too. Has he been dealt twice – the first was at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Brenden Morrow to Pittsburgh. Is that because teams covet him or is there something about his game that hasn’t carried over to the pro level and perhaps never will?
We have to give Stars GM Jim Nill high marks for being bold in his first real move as a GM at the NHL level. Being with Detroit all those years, Nill knows well that good teams build with strength down the middle and is showing confidence that Seguin can provide the foundation for that. It also allows the Stars to move Jamie Benn back to his natural left wing position and may open up a spot for hulking winger Valeri Nichushkin, a player they drafted 10th overall last weekend who has expressed an eagerness to play in the NHL immediately.
The Bruins, meanwhile, free up about $4 million in cap space that they seem intent on using to lure Daniel Alfredsson to town. Now, that’s a short-term move designed with one goal in mind, to finish the job and win the Stanley Cup in 2014, something they couldn’t do with Seguin.
All in all, it looks like a solid hockey deal made by two highly skilled hockey executives, one with an eye to next season and the other beyond that. And they might just have both been successful in their objectives.
Ken Campbell is the senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. To read more from Ken and THN's other stable of experts, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Ken on Twitter at @THNKenCampbell.