The Boston Bruins took a chance when they traded Tyler Seguin, a former No. 2 overall draft pick and a supremely talented forward, to the Dallas Stars last summer.
The B’s had holes in their roster to fill, and trading Seguin was one way of fortifying the group with players who are able to excel in a specific role. The playoffs are all about depth, and the Bruins simply didn’t have enough of it in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks when injuries and top-nine forwards under performing were issues too large to overcome.
As a player with point-per-game talent, Seguin has a bright future ahead of him, but his failure to provide scoring production on a consistent basis in the playoffs was a genuine concern. He tallied just eight points and scored only one goal in Boston’s 22-game postseason run in 2013. He was a complete non-factor in the six-game loss to the Blackhawks with two assists. Seguin posted one goal and two assists in Dallas’ six-game Round 1 series loss to the Anaheim Ducks last month, giving him two goals in his last 28 postseason games.
The Bruins are better equipped to win the Stanley Cup right now than they were last season, and one major reason why is the depth that the team acquired in the Seguin trade.
Loui Eriksson was the main piece the B’s received in return, and he has steadily improved since the Winter Olympic break. He has tallied just three points in nine playoff games, but the 28-year-old winger has played a key role on the penalty kill, and his possession numbers are solid, evidenced by his 60.1 corsi-for percentage (second-best on team). Boston is averaging 11.2 percent more shots when Eriksson is on the ice. Only Carl Soderberg is making a stronger impact in that area during the postseason.
Reilly Smith was among the B’s best forwards during the regular season with 51 points (20 goals, 31 assists) in 82 games. The 23-year-old winger is the team’s fourth-best possession player in the playoffs and scored the game-winning goal in Game 2 against the Montreal Canadiens.
Smith has impressed the entire team, including linemate Patrice Bergeron.
“(Reilly has) got the right mentality,” Bergeron said after Game 2. “He wants to get better; he wants to be a difference out there. I think even in that stretch he was still making the right plays and playing well. I love playing with him; he’s always in the right spot making great plays. Right now, he’s played some great hockey. He’s really fighting, battling, making some right plays, going to the front of the net, making some great back checks, and that’s what you need.”
The most recent example of the Bruins benefiting from the Seguin trade was Matt Fraser scoring an overtime goal to seal a crucial Game 4 victory over the Habs on Thursday night and avoid a 3-1 series deficit.
Boston’s third line dominated Game 4 (see chart), and two of its three components were players from the Seguin deal (Eriksson, Fraser). Fraser, who was making his postseason debut, became the first player to ever score an NHL and AHL overtime playoff goal in the same season.
Both of Boston’s wins in Round 2 were a result of game-winning goals by Smith and Fraser, and Smith also added a game-winner in Round 1.
There’s no doubt that Seguin was the most talented piece in the blockbuster trade, but the players the B’s received in return are better fits in their physical, defense-first style of hockey.
The trade has been a gift that keeps on giving for the Bruins.
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