-- Despite his unquestioned hockey pedigree and above-average on-ice performance throughout training camp, Boston rookie forward Tyler Seguin
refuses to take anything for granted.
Yes, he was the No. 2 pick this past June. Yes, he was dominant last year in the Ontario Hockey League. And yes, he has been everything the Bruins could hope for this preseason, playing both wing and center in a productive and effective manner.
So it shouldn't be surprising that Seguin has broken his first pro camp with the Bruins and is slated to play top-six minutes this weekend when the Bruins face the Phoenix Coyotes
in the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere series here at 02 Arena.
Yet, Seguin is not buying into the hype around his status as a full-fledged NHL player.
"Have I made the team?" he asked NHL.com Thursday during an interview at the team's hotel.
Seguin wasn't being coy. He knows he is on the team's opening-day roster, but he points out it is not a permanent posting quite yet.
"There's something, for me personally and all the rookies, where I can play in nine NHL games and then they can send me back," he said.
Actually, the Bruins can send Seguin back to the Ontario Hockey League at any point, but the nine-game cutoff is in place to allow clubs to send first-year players down without burning a year of their entry-level contract.
Seguin knows he still has to clear that hurdle, but there is reason for optimism.
"It's a big thrill, but it's nothing official or anything like that," Seguin said. "I guess when it is all said and done, I will be more happy. Right now, I am having a great experience with this and I do feel part of the team."
If his play here in Europe is any barometer, Seguin has a very good chance of playing in the NHL all season. He scored 2 goals in a victory against Belfast on Saturday and added a power-play goal in Tuesday's win against Liberec, a top-flight Czech club.
"I've been trying to stay as consistent as I can on the things I am doing right," Seguin said. "But there still are a lot of little things you have to get used to and adapt to and things I personally need to work on to get better in my game and those are the things I am trying to do."
After starting the preseason on the wing, a position that requires fewer demands of a young player, Seguin was moved to the middle when it was determined that top-line center Marc Savard
would miss the start of the season because of post-concussion syndrome.
It was a move borne out of necessity, but one that also worried the Boston brass a bit. They knew their prized youngster could handle the offensive end of the assignment after watching him score 106 points with the Plymouth Whalers last season. But the added defensive responsibility in coach Claude Julien
's system was a legitimate concern.
In fact, Julien harped on the fact that Seguin's ability to adapt to his heightened role in the defensive zone would be one of the most interesting storylines for the European portion of training camp.
Clearly, Seguin heard the message loud and clear. He has worked diligently at own-zone coverage and the results are starting to show, although the youngster remains prone to the ill-advised pass in his own end when under pressure.
"It's just supporting all around the ice, being a centerman," Seguin told NHL.com. "It's different than the OHL. You can't just drive by and get away with it. There's a lot more stopping and positional things. I think that comes with maturing as a player and I have been trying to do that.
"I always like to say I adapt pretty quickly, and coming in here I feel I have been doing that. I feel more comfortable and confident out there every day."
His improvement has been noticed by the coaching staff, particularly the always-demanding Julien, who has tasked long-time NHL center Doug Jarvis
, one of his assistant coaches, to tutoring duties with Seguin.
"A few times on the backcheck he's done a great job through the middle," Julien told NHL.com. "Even on breakouts, our centermen have to be a little more patient and come from underneath and he has really caught on to that.
"We see a lot of good things that he has done. Definitely, he is catching on."
And he is scoring, which is his forte -- especially on the power play.
Against Liberec on Tuesday, Seguin scored a pretty goal when he worked the half wall to perfection, waited for linemate Mark Recchi
to set a screen in the slot and then snapped home a laser beam.
"That goal he scored, we expect on our power play that the guy on the half wall has to take a shot and that was a great shot from Tyler," Julien said Thursday. "Those are the assets and the kinds of things that Tyler is going to give our team and make our team better."