The Bruins lost a forward from every line this summer. During the salary cap era, teams are going to require immediate results from players. The Bruins may understand this better than any team in the league. They have let players walk into free agency, and dealt underachieving players for assets that will help the team in the long run. The most recent of these dealing, being former 2nd overall draft pick Tyler Seguin, who was dealt along with Rich Peverley and Ryan Button to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Matt Fraser, Reilly Smith, and Joe Morrow.
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Defensive responsibility is the benchmark of coach Claude Julien's system. However, a lack of offensive production will not be tolerated inside of the top 6. Tyler Seguin regressed this year in his offensive game. While his defensive abilities were very much improved over the last two years, his offensive abilities were not showing through. The front office may have done away with the kid too quickly, but good management teams know which players they covet, and Tyler Seguin clearly was not one of them.
In the bottom six of the Bruins system, the forwards main responsibility is a good solid defensive game, while chipping in on offense. Not only are these bottom six forwards responsible for 5 on 5 play, it is where most of the penalty killing assets come from. Dan Paille, Greg Campbell, Chris Kelly, and the now departed Rich Peverley were all extremely capable penalty killers. The value in the bottom six does not correlate with offensive production. Instead, the value of these players is determined by their hockey IQ and versatility. When looking at a player like Tyler Seguin, who did not seem poised to fill into a top six role and lacked both of the above mentioned qualities, it seems logical that the Bruins moved the young forward.
Bringing in a player like Loui Eriksson to slide into what would have been Seguin's job on the wing, is a move that fits the mold that Bruin's management has formed. Eriksson's solid two way play, and ability to find the back of the net should allow him to fit well onto Patrice Bergeron's line. The clear message to the squad was sent by management: that nobody's position will be handed to them. If a player on this team is not doing what is asked of them, they could be moved regardless of star power. When the Bruins signed Tyler Seguin to his 6 year 34.5 million dollar deal, it was expected of him to be able to play a top six role. When his play regressed during the 2012-13 season, the Bruins cut their losses and rid themselves of a player who simply did not fit.
While the gains or losses from this blockbuster deal are yet to be determined, credit should be given to the Bruin's front office for timely decision making in an attempt to solidify to the team, the fans, and the league what is going to be expected of their players. All off ice shenanigans that may be present aside, Tyler Seguin's salary did not match the level of play that he was showing on the ice. In the midst of a 5 year span that has seen Boston rise from two horrific post-lockout seasons to five straight postseason appearances, 3 division titles, and two Stanley Cup finals appearances, the time was now to make this move.
This is one of my first posts of many to come in the future. Most will be on the Boston Bruins, but as a hockey fan I am sure that any other hockey related story lines will be explored. Thanks for reading.
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