Friday, June 25, 2010
Seguin hopes to make immediate impact
By Joe McDonald ESPNBoston.com
LOS ANGELES -- In the days leading up to the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, 18-year-old prospect Tyler Seguin saw Boston Bruins veteran, and future Hall of Famer, Mark Recchi in the hotel elevator numerous times.
"We became elevator buddies," Seguin joked.
Whether he plays center or wing, Tyler Seguin should be a help when he pulls on a Bruins sweater.
Now they're teammates.
If all goes according to plan for Seguin and the Bruins, he will earn a spot on the team's roster for the 2010-2011 season after he was selected by Boston as its first pick (No. 2 overall) on Friday at Staples Center.
Seguin knew he would either end up in Edmonton or Boston, so getting a chance to meet a future teammate worked out well, especially given that Recchi, 42, agreed to a one-year deal with the Bruins on Friday.
"That was pretty cool, and he's definitely going to give me a lot of advice, and I'm looking forward to that," Seguin said.
Now that he's officially a Bruin, Seguin said his goal is to not only earn a spot on the roster next season, but to make an impact.
"Right now my main focus is to have an incredible offseason and put on some weight," the 6-foot-1, 172-pounder said. "I'll [focus] on doing better in areas where I think I need to do, and I'm sure Boston will tell me some stuff to improve my game. From there I want to hopefully come in next year and be an impact player, whether I play center or wing. I think I'm a very diverse guy."
Seguin played in 124 total games during his two seasons with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, posting 69 goals and 104 assists for 175 points.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, echoing the assessments of other GMs and scouts, has said Seguin is NHL-ready and could make an impact next season. There was some thought Seguin could return to juniors next season, but that's unlikely.
"One, he has to make the team, and I expect he'll make the team, but you never know," Chiarelli said. "That will be a decision for the fall. If you remember some of the players in the past, his age and body type, a guy like [Tampa's Steven] Stamkos, it took him a while to get his confidence and his strength, so I would anticipate that line of progress as far as getting him acclimated to the league."
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity," Seguin said. "I think I should have a pretty good opportunity and I'll do my best to earn a spot. If not, I have a great team -- the Plymouth Whalers -- to fall back on, but that's not my main goal right now."
A natural centerman, Seguin has been playing wing for the Whalers. Chiarelli believes the prospect can play both positions in the NHL. Seguin concurs.
"I came to love wing and I didn't have a preference between wing or center," he said. "I'm very confident that I can walk in and be a winger. I'm confident to play wing or center or whatever it may be."
Seguin is solid in all three zones, which he said he learned this past season in order to compete in the NHL. On Friday, he told a story about the time he was benched for a game last season because he was more focused on the offensive side of his game.
Not any more.
"Especially this year I knew to get to the next level I had to mature as a player and get better playing in my own end," he said. "It started working out when I was playing better in my D-zone, I started getting more chances in the offensive zone."
There were hugs all around in the Tyler Seguin contingent when the Bruins made him the No. 2 pick.
With all the pre-draft attention on Taylor Hall and Seguin, and how close they are in ability, both said they wanted to be the No. 1 overall selection. After Hall put on his Oilers sweater and Seguin donned the Bruins' black and gold, the draft order didn't mean a thing.
"I wasn't surprised or disappointed," he said. "I just came in with an open mind and I didn't have any expectations. Everyone has their own opinions, and Edmonton decided to select Hall. And good for him, he deserves it. I'm happy to be a Bruin."
Seguin said his gut feeling where he would end up changed every hour.
"Now I'm just happy to look down at my jersey and know where I'm going. It's a little bit of a relief," he said.
Off the ice, Chiarelli visited with Seguin and his family a few weeks ago and came away from the meeting with an even more positive outlook than he had going in.
"It confirmed in my mind what I thought," Chiarelli said. "Good family, good values. He's very motivated and very ambitious. I can see that in his parents, and that's a good thing. They're driven, and you can see that in Tyler's improvement. He's improved from year to year. He's a driven kid and he works hard off the ice. He works on conditioning and that's so important, especially when you're a skilled player."
After Chiarelli and his staff visited the Seguin family at their home in Brampton, Ontario, Tyler was brought to Boston for a visit. When he conducted his media scrum after he was picked on Friday, the newest Bruin said all the right things.
"From meeting them and visiting Boston, you can tell by the people who are there already it's just a phenomenal place to play," he said. "There's so much history with the Bruins and they have an incredible fan base. It's a hockey town. When I went there, it was beautiful and I can't wait to go back."
When Chiarelli announced the Bruins' selection, Seguin was surrounded by a contingent of about 30 people, including family and friends. He handed out hugs, made his way to center stage and pulled the Bruins sweater over his head.
"It feels amazing," he said. "You can't really describe it. It's one of the best feelings I've had in my life."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.