On the Fourth of July, the Bruins traded forward Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars. Neely doesn’t classify the trade as a “bail” on the second-overall pick in the 2010 draft, and says the deal wasn’t about just one thing — either on or off the ice — when it came to Seguin.
“There were a couple factors that have been mentioned out there, both on and off the ice. Personally, I think Tyler is a good kid that has a lot of skill. He needs to understand what he needs to do to be successful on the ice and understand what he has to do off the ice to have a long career,” said Neely. “It wasn’t one thing. It’s very difficult to think about moving a guy like Tyler. He’s a good kid, he’s got a way about him that you know he’s still a kid, and that age there is still a lot of upside there. It’s a difficult decision and you don’t make it over one thing.”
“We saw him develop over the last three years, and I won’t get into specifics, but there were a number of conversations in those three years how we wanted him to mature along the way,” Neely added. “I wouldn’t classify (the trade) as a bail. We got a really strong return for Tyler, so if it was a bail I don’t think we would get the return. We all felt it was time to see and explore what we could get for Tyler at this point in his career, and if the return made sense we would look to do something.”
Neely said the trade talks began at the NHL Draft, but when Boston didn’t get any deals worth making the team was ready to move on with Seguin. That’s when GM Peter Chiarelli said his young player needed to become more of a professional — something Neely called another one of those messages they were trying to send to the 21-year-old.
“We wanted a proper return for Tyler, and when that didn’t happen we were prepared to move forward with Tyler, and kind of make sure he had an idea – again, another idea – of what our expectations were of him,” he said of Chiarelli’s comments. “At the time, our thought was he was going to be in our lineup next year.”
In return for Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button, the Bruins received Loui Eriksson and three prospects — as well as some much-needed salary cap space.
In Eriksson, Neely says the Bruins got a very good two-way player that will form a dominant line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
“He’s a solid two-way player with some scoring touch. I think he prefers playing the right, which works for us. He’s had some good years putting the pick in the net, making plays and being solid on both ways on the ice,” Neely said of Eriksson. “He’ll give us a really good checking-scoring line, so to speak. He’s got some experience, and if you saw any of his quotes, he’s excited to come to Boston. He knows what kind of a hockey city this is and seen what we’ve done.”
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The Bruins also added free agent forward Jarome Iginla last week, giving them another much-needed winger following the departure of Nathan Horton.
Iginla chose the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Bruins last year, but Neely said no one is really holding that against the veteran winger.
“It was frustrating at the time, when you think you have a guy and you don’t, but I don’t think anybody here was holding grudges for too long, especially when we knocked [him and the Penguins] out in four games,” Neely said of Iginla. “[Iginla’s camp] came knocking on our door, which surprised us, and none of us had an issue. I don’t see why more people wouldn’t want to play in Boston.”
Neely said that had Iginla not approached the team, they likely would have given the free agent a call.
Neely also said that extensions with Tuukka Rask and Patrice Bergeron are still moving forward, with Chiarelli “down to the nitty gritty.” He also said the team is happy with their team moving forward, squashing some trade rumors that have been circling in the last 24 hours, and ruled out a return of forward Jaromir Jagr.
As for the Stanley Cup Final loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Neely looks at Boston’s Game 4 loss, and not their final minute Game 6 collapse, as Boston’s biggest lost opportunity.
“I think Game 4 is really the game I look at. We scored five goals, and normally when we do that we win. That would have put us up 3-1 and have gotten three kicks at the can,” said Neely. “We were way too loose, didn’t give Tuukka any help, and it was kind of like the last shot wins. Game 6, obviously, I am chalking that up to the hockey gods getting back at us for Game 7 of the first round.”
“What we did in Game 7 in Round 1 (against Toronto), I don’t know if you’ll see it again. What happened to us in Game 6 of the Finals, you’ll probably see that again,” said Neely. “It went from feeling like we’re in a Game 7, to we’re in overtime, to ‘oh no, season is over.’ It was frustrating how that played out in quick fashion, but I look at our Game 4 and how we let that one slip away more.”
“It would have been nice to get a little more production from players you have those expectations for,” Neely said of the Cup Final. “I didn’t feel like we shouldn’t have been on the same sheet of ice as Chicago, but I think we can look at 2011 and 2013 and say we could have lost Game 7 in Vancouver and we could have won Game 6 here against Chicago.”
“A couple breaks here and there, we would have had a better chance to put ourselves in a better position to win,” he said. “With a couple breaks, we could have had a better outcome. Having said that, we were fortunate to get out of Round 1.”