Getting shuttled off a perennial Stanley Cup contender in a feverish hockey market to an also-ran in the middle of Texas could have been a demoralizing and disheartening blow for a 22-year-old kid, but looking at Tyler Seguin today, the trade that sent him from the Bruins to the Stars last July doesn't seem to have fazed him one bit. In his first season with Dallas, the forward has emerged as every bit the offensive wonder he was touted to be when he was drafted with the No. 2 pick in 2010. With 67 points in 63 games, tied for fifth best in the league, Seguin has the Stars in position to make their first playoff appearance since '08.
A move to his natural position at center -- Seguin played mostly on the wing in Boston -- has seemed to serve him well, as has the almost-instant chemistry he found with 24-year-old winger Jamie Benn. Seguin spent some time after the trade going through his Benn's highlight reel, and the film sessions have clearly served both players well; each is on pace to smash career bests this season.
Considering the turmoil that surrounded Seguin and his trade eight months ago, everything has gone surprisingly well. When he was unceremoniously dumped by the Bruins, Seguin left town with rumors of excessive partying and general immaturity trailing in his wake. On the day he was traded, he was snapped red-Solo-cup-handed in photos that appeared on Instagram. A post-trade report from the Boston Herald even alleged that the Bruins had kept a watchful eye on the doors to his hotel rooms during the playoffs, fearing that the youngster would sneak out to party like a teenager breaking curfew.
While more than a few Boston fans may have bid Seguin good riddance at the time, there may now be some regret in Beantown in light of his stellar play this season. After all, Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane went from alleged problem child to Conn Smythe winner -- Chicago stuck with Kane, and the patience paid off. But not all of these cases come down to patience.
In Seguin's situation, it was more about fit -- a bit like the case of another former Bruins forward, Phil Kessel, who has flourished since leaving Boston and now ranks second in league scoring for the Maple Leafs. In his time with the Bruins, Kessel didn't really fit in the mold of Boston's brand of hockey, one marked by rugged responsibility in every zone. And in many ways, neither did Seguin. Truth be told, it's safe to say that neither Kessel nor Seguin would be having the same kinds of scoring seasons had they remained with the Bruins. In Boston, players mold themselves into the team's identity, not the other way around.
So with two former Bruins near the top of the league's scoring race, it's easy to lament what's no longer in Boston. But it's also hard to criticize Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, whose team is firmly atop the Atlantic Division, and has made two appearances in the Stanley Cup finals in the last four years. In both cases, it's probably a credit to Chiarelli for identifying that neither the team nor the talent was getting much benefit from the relationships, and recognizing that all three parties (Kessel, Seguin and the Bruins) could be more successful apart than they could be together. Success can be just as much a product of circumstance as it can be of talent.
Seguin, for one, can certainly see that side of the coin now. "I feel [Dallas] is almost where I should have gone in the first place," he said in January. "When you're ranked as high as I was [before the draft], you don't usually go to a Cup-contending team ... Here, I'm right at the beginning of it."
As much as he'll help the Stars, Seguin will get even more from being in Dallas and being around such people as longtime NHL coach Lindy Ruff and stalwart veteran Ray Whitney. With more ice time, Seguin has had more opportunities in every game. But more importantly, he is allowed to make mistakes in Dallas, where the bar hasn't been set very high in recent years. He's winning, for example, only 41.7 percent of his face-offs -- making draws an area for improvement, not a reason for demotion.
In Dallas, Seguin is a foundation block on a team that is building, and now, he can grow with his team, and not into it.