-- Tyler Seguin
weaved in between several players before depositing a puck in the open net. His moves were subtle and quick, his hands were fast, and the obvious impression was he was more than your standard NHL rookie. Then again, not only was it not in a regular season NHL game, it wasn't even against another team.
This year's No. 2 pick was simply having fun after a drill in the morning skate, and the more you watched the more you got the idea that that's what this was for him. Fun.
"That's why we play it," Seguin said. "That's why we love it."
That sentiment is obvious with Seguin. When given a spare moment Wednesday morning the Brampton, Ont., native was running his own puck-handling drills or ribbing his fellow rookies. Later Seguin continued the jocularity as he stood at the top of the crease for a tip drill that was serious and amusing all at once; at one point he grabbed a puck that had deflected up near his shoulders and simply threw it past the goalie.
The man who would be superstar of the Hub seems very at ease on the ice.
"Ty's been great," said center Joe Colborne
, another rookie hoping to crack the roster. "He's so humble and down to earth that he's just one of the guys.
"I don't see that changing any time soon."
If the pressure of being a highly-touted rookie has weighed on Seguin he doesn't appear to be showing it, and that's probably a good thing given no one is sure what impact he's going to have on the big club this year. All rookies face a learning curve, and given the Bruins' impressive depth down the middle with Marc Savard
, Patrice Bergeron
and David Krejci
, if Seguin is to find a spot in Boston it may require a shift to the wing.
One thing is certain, though. Unlike most high picks, Seguin won't immediately be playing the role of Boston's hockey messiah. The Bruins don't need to be saved.
Boston has been in the Stanley Cup Playoffs three straight years, twice coming within one win of the conference finals. But despite standing on the doorstep, the Cup-starved Bruins are looking for a breakthrough. Boston hasn't won a championship in nearly four decades, and the job for Seguin won't be to turn the franchise around, but perhaps to be the missing piece.
Seguin has the unique opportunity to be in a competitive situation as he matures, and in Wednesday's rookie game against New York, the potential was obvious to Boston's front office.
"He was a little tentative, but it's all relative with him because he's such a highly-skilled player," Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli said. "You saw some of the passes he made and you saw some of the little plays that he made, mature plays that he made moving up the ice with the puck.
"You're going to see a lot more of what you saw tonight."
Whatever apprehension Seguin showed early was an afterthought by the time the Bruins' rookies polished off a 5-2 victory. Bizarrely, the incident that may have helped him find his stride was when Seguin, who eventually set up two scores, was sent to the penalty box for interference late in the first period.
"It was the first time I got on the board in a Boston Bruins
uniform," Seguin said. "Then I got an assist and another one followed."
As it stood, the ensuing four-on-four may have opened up the ice and led to Jordan Caron
's goal early in the second period. This is how the NHL's No. 2 overall pick saw his team score for the first time in a Bruins sweater: from the sin bin.
Seguin will likely be seeing more goals from the ice than the box, and as he develops into a major part of Boston's future, he'll have plenty of guidance. While he's gotten comfortable exploring Boston and bonded with his fellow rookies, he'll soon have veterans like Zdeno Chara
and Mark Recchi
to shepherd him along the way.
For Recchi, who has also mentored Eric Staal
, Steven Stamkos
and Sidney Crosby
in recent years, the dynamic will be old hat.
"I met a couple of the guys," Seguin said. "I'm sure I'll have many vets around me just to ask questions."
The job may not be very difficult. Seguin has by all accounts been working hard and said all the right things -- one member of the media joked to him Wednesday that he should change his middle name to "If I make the team."
Most expect Seguin will be in Boston this year, but both he and Chiarelli note there is still fine-tuning to do, particularly in the defensive zone. If his behavior is any indication, however, he won't be bothered by the spotlight as he works to hone his skills. In fact, given the easy nature he's displayed in practice, he might even enjoy the work he has to put in.
The ovation he received from a larger-than-anticipated crowd of 11,571 Wednesday night signaled the fans' expectations, but while Chiarelli didn't necessarily want to temper the optimism, he acknowledged that some breathing room might be necessary.
"I think you saw a couple of gaps here and there. But it's his first game," Chiarelli said with a wry smile.
"We've got to cut him some slack."
Contact David Kalan at firstname.lastname@example.org