BOSTON (CBS) – In the hockey world, it’s a rarity to see a trade that ends up making both teams better. But after nearly a full regular season, it appears the Tyler Seguin trade has done just that for Boston and Dallas.
The blockbuster deal went through on the Fourth of July last summer, when Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli sent Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button to Dallas for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and prospects Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow.
While it’s easy to point to Seguin’s stats and declare Dallas the winners of the trade, there is far more to the story than that. Namely, the Bruins are the best team in hockey right now.
Boston is also third in the NHL in goals scored despite losing the forward with a superstar pedigree. Comparatively, they were tied for 13th in the league with Seguin on the roster last season.
It’s safe to say Eriksson’s tenure in Boston got off to a rough start, through no fault of his own. He’s been sidelined with two concussions, and has missed 21 contests in his first season sporting the spoked-B. However since his return from the second concussion, he’s been a vital component of excellent play coming from the third line. The fluidity of Eriksson, Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly was instrumental in helping the Bruins to win 12 straight games and log the longest winning streak in the NHL this season.
Beyond that, he’s a player that has fit perfectly into head coach Claude Julien’s defensive system. Eriksson plays all 200 feet of the rink, blocks shots and kills penalties. He has a goal-scorer’s touch, but isn’t willing to compromise his strong defensive habits because of it. The result of this is a third line that’s always a threat to score while remaining stingy in its own end.
Reilly Smith has flourished in a top-six role. Playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the 22 year-old winger is a goal away from having a 20-goal season. He has 28 assists as well, and has made the most of his power play time, racking up 12 points on the man advantage.
Very few people, if any, expected this type of output when the Bruins acquired him, as before this season Smith had amassed three goals in the NHL and only 14 in the AHL.
The centerpiece of the trade, Seguin, is having a career year with the Stars. He has his team in the midst of a dogfight for a wild card spot in the Western Conference, and the Stars could make the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season. Through 70 contests the forward has netted 32 goals and racked up 43 assists. He’s thrived centering a line with Jamie Benn on his wing, and has a share of the NHL lead with three hat tricks this season.
Seguin has also grown into a more physical player, already registering a career high 44 hits. That is by no means the number of a bruising forward, but it is indicative of a maturation from the lanky kid who never registered 30 in his three seasons with Boston. Regardless of his rumored off-ice transgressions, Seguin has emerged as one of the league’s best on the ice, and Dallas is a better team with him on its roster.
In one of the scariest in-game incidents in recent memory, Peverley collapsed on the bench in his 62nd game of the season. Fortunately he was revived and has since had successful heart surgery, but his season is over. Before the incident Peverley was having a productive first season in a Dallas uniform.
The speedy third liner had registered 30 points, and was an important piece of the Stars’ special teams play. Peverley was averaging over two minutes per game when Dallas was on the man advantage, and another minute on the penalty kill.
The player for player trade-off does still seem slightly skewed towards Dallas. Two productive system players for a budding superstar and a quality bottom-six player? But then consider this: the Bruins are always tight against the salary cap (feels good to finally be able to write that) and they saved $3.9 million against it in that deal. Enter Jarome Iginla.
Trading Seguin away and getting his almost $6 million AAV salary off the books helped to enable the Bruins to sign Iginla, who has been arguably their most consistent forward. He’s played in all 72 games for the Bruins so far this season, adding 28 goals, 30 assists and boasting a gaudy plus-32 rating, which is good for third in the league behind only linemate David Krejci and Bergeron.
The wily veteran has lived up to his power-forward billing, registering 133 hits and dropping the gloves four times in a Bruins uniform. By all accounts he’s been a leader on and off the ice, and leads the club with seven game-winning goals. Without freeing up the cap space from moving Seguin and adding Eriksson at a lower price, it’s unlikely the Bruins would have been able to sign Iginla.
At the end of the day, there’s no denying that Seguin’s 75 points (and counting) are impressive, and a surface-level analysis would say that Dallas won the trade. But when you consider what the swap enabled the Bruins to do, you’d be hard-pressed to say that their roster doesn’t look better heading into the postseason than it did during last year’s Cup run. A 22-game run, lest we forget, during which Seguin only scored one goal.
Christopher Mason is an intern at 98.5 The SportsHub.