The Bruins’ Thursday night visit to Dallas will mark the first time Seguin plays host to his old team. It also will be the first game back in Big D for Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith, who were part of the July 4 blockbuster trade that shook the foundations of both teams.
Whenever a big trade like that goes down, there’s always a rush to declare a winner and loser. However, that really takes time. And sometimes it works out for both teams, which likely will be the case in this deal.
Here’s how things are looking for the primary parties involved in the trade:
Tyler Seguin: The controversial forward probably was the recipient of a little too much a little too early. At 21 years old, Seguin already had won a Stanley Cup and signed a six-year contract extension worth more than $30 million. However, it started to become clear that Seguin might not be a great fit in Boston, so the Bruins traded him when his stock was high. So far, he’s flourished in Dallas alongside Jamie Benn, with 42 points in 44 games this season. He’ll never be a defensive force, but Seguin is using his impressive skill set in Dallas.
Loui Eriksson: He was known as one of the NHL’s most underrated forwards during his time with the Stars, and his Bruins tenure has been up and down, largely because of injury. When Eriksson is on the ice, though, he’s a solid player who is responsible in all three zones. Eriksson will benefit from this deal most when spring rolls around. He’s played in 527 NHL games but reached the playoffs just twice. Eriksson now is part of a team that contends every year, which means he better get used to postseason hockey.
Reilly Smith: Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has insisted all along that Smith wasn’t the “throw-in” of the deal. The Bruins had scouted the winger at Miami of Ohio and made it a point to have Smith involved in the trade. They knew what they were talking about, apparently. Smith is getting a ton of ice time in just his second full NHL season, and he’s making the most of it, leading the Bruins in goals (15) and ranking second in points (33). Once Smith started playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, his play really took off. As long as he proves he can do it consistently, Smith figures to be a fixture in the Bruins’ top six for years to come.
Stars: They aren’t contenders yet, and acquiring Seguin probably won’t change their fortunes altogether. However, Seguin gives Dallas a potential No. 1 center through at least 2018-19. That’s all contingent upon Seguin actually developing into a first-line center. He’s not there yet, but even if he never actually becomes a top-line pivot, he’ll at least bring a world of offensive talent to the table. Dallas isn’t a natural hockey market, which means the Stars can’t fill their building on reputation alone. Entertaining and talented players — no matter those players’ reluctance to go into corners or play consistent defense — also should excite fans. The Stars had to part with some good pieces to acquire Seguin, but if he becomes the player they believe he can be and fulfills his potential as 2010’s No. 2 overall draft pick, it all will be worth it for Dallas.
Bruins: They don’t need Seguin to be one of the league’s best teams. Do they miss some of his skill set at times? Sure. But the Bruins decided he didn’t fit their system, so they turned him into two players and two prospects they believe do. Even if Seguin becomes an 80- or 90-point player with the Stars, it’s no given that he would have been able to do that in Boston. Smith and Eriksson each have the potential to be 50- or 60-point players, and they’re willing and able to do things that Seguin couldn’t or wouldn’t. The Bruins also acquired winger Matt Fraser — who showed encouraging signs during a recent call-up — and defenseman Joe Morrow in the deal, and those two could be valuable pieces.
Again, it’s still far too early to make a final call about this trade. But if the first half of the first season with everyone in their new places is any indication, it appears everyone will be winners.