If you're an NHL GM constructing a roster from the ground up, your most difficult task is installing top-end talent. A top defense pairing, an elite goaltender, and a top line comprised of true first-liners. Plenty of teams around the league, even those who call themselves contenders, are missing one or more of these pieces. The most difficult piece to acquire? A No. 1 center. And finding a young one? If you're not planning to pick in the top five of the draft, good luck.
Stars GM Jim Nill was hired April 29 and Tyler Seguin was acquired July 4. The longtime executive of the Red Wings made trading for a No. 1 center his first priority. He poached a 21-year-old budding star from a Boston Bruins team that was stocked at center ice, having moved Seguin to right wing in favor of David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron up the middle. It was a unique situation in which an elite young talent was seen as expendable before playing out his entry-level contract. Nill wisely swooped in.
Saturday afternoon in Dallas, in front of a crowd of 8,567, the top line of the Stars gave a performance worthy of a sellout in a 5-1 dismantling of the Flyers. Seguin led the way with a hat trick and one assist, while 18-year-old Valeri Nichushkin posted a goal and three helpers. Dallas had auditioned several right wingers alongside Benn and Seguin, but it appears the current trio will remain intact.
Check out the wheels on Seguin. Unreal.
Here's Seguin and Nichushkin working a nifty crisscross.
With Jamie Benn and Nichushkin on the wings with Seguin, Dallas has two superstars on their top line and another likely on the way. Like his linemates, Nichushkin has an astounding set of wheels to go along with a magnetic blade. He's also 6-foot-4, which doesn't hurt. He was Adam Proteau's pick for the Calder, and seven points in his past three games indicate he's getting the hang of pro hockey in North America.
As for Team Canada, don't expect Seguin to get the call. It's not for a shortage of skill, but Seguin's competing within an impossibly deep talent pool. Even his four- and five-point outbursts this year won't be enough. He'll certainly be in the mix for 2014. Benn, however, should fully expect to represent Canada. Left wing isn't a deep position for the Canadians, and Benn is versatile enough to slot in on any line. He's a mature player, a captain, and brings some grit along with a plentiful skill set.
Nill's current roster is lacking depth and still needs another top-six forward or two and some work on D, but the remaining pieces won't be as difficult to find as the ones he has in place. Having the right core of stars worked for the Red Wings during Nill's tenure, and it looks like he's on his way to building something similar in Dallas.
***Update: After learning of the ice storms in Dallas, a jab directed toward the game's attendance was removed from the original post.