Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli deftly has secured a long-term commitment from nearly every key figure on the Bruins' roster, and Tuesday he locked up maybe the most important player for Boston's future success.
FANTASY HOCKEY RANKINGS
"We're very happy that we've got a commitment from Tyler, we're obviously prepared to commit to him," Chiarelli said during a conference call. "He's a young, exciting player. He's maturing before our eyes, and I feel that with the hard work that he's shown us and the willingness to put in that hard work and continue to improve, I think the sky is the limit for Tyler. ... Part of this business is projecting, and we're projecting Tyler to be a terrific young player."
Boston selected Seguin with the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft -- a pick acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the package for Phil Kessel. Seguin had 11 goals and 22 points in his rookie season, but after being a healthy scratch to start the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he had three goals and six points in his first two postseason games, during the Eastern Conference Finals, to help shift the series in Boston's favor.
Seguin followed that breakout series with a star-making campaign for the defending champions last season. Not only did he replace retired Mark Recchi on the team's second line, he helped form one of the League's dominant trios with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
The Brampton, Ontario, native led the Bruins with 29 goals and 67 points in 2011-12. The team's title defense ended with an overtime loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the first round, but Seguin again showed his penchant for postseason heroics when he scored in overtime in Game 6 at Verizon Center to force a seventh game.
"He's a high-level skill player," Chiarelli said. "He's led our team in scoring. ... This is maybe more projection that we're used to doing -- I just see a player who is committed to getting better. I see a player who is already baselining at such a high level. Tyler has things to learn -- he knows that, but I see such a high baseline that this is a prudent thing to do under the current set of rules."
When his new deal starts, Seguin will have the second-highest salary-cap hit on the team behind captain Zdeno Chara, but Chiarelli said the contract stipulates Seguin will make $4.5 million in the first year and $5.5 million in the second.
That might be a way to ease some of the pressure on Seguin, but the upside is clear -- he has franchise player-type talent, and regardless of when he makes the money there are going to be significant expectations.
"I think as-is, I have high expectations of myself," Seguin said on the conference call. "I like to think I adapt to new situations well, and I am a confident player. I think I have a lot of improvement to come, and I feel like I have a lot more respect to earn from both players and also management. I think that is what's going to keep me motivated to keep going."
This contract comes three weeks after Taylor Hall, the player selected before Seguin in 2010, signed a seven-year, $42 million extension with the Edmonton Oilers. The "Taylor vs. Tyler" argument was a dominant pre-draft storyline, and they are certain to be linked for the rest of their careers.
SOG: 242 | +/-: 34
Kessel has scored 99 goals in his three seasons with the Maple Leafs, and has two years left on the five-year, $27 million contract he signed shortly after the trade. Hamilton is Boston's top prospect and could crack the lineup in 2012-13 as a 19-year-old. Knight had 26 goals and 52 points for London of the Ontario Hockey League and likely will begin this season with Providence in the American Hockey League.
Seguin's contract comes on the heels of the four-year, $18 million extension Marchand signed Sept. 8. Boston has the highest projected payroll in the League for the coming season, according to Capgeek.com. That total includes $5 million for goalie Tim Thomas, who has told the team he intends to sit out the 2012-13 season, and $4.007 million for Marc Savard, who is unlikely to play because of multiple concussions. He can be placed on long-term injured reserve to open up more space.
Seguin would have become a restricted free agent July 1, 2013 had he not signed his new deal. That's the same situation facing forward Milan Lucic and goalie Tuukka Rask if they're not signed before that date. Not counting Thomas and Savard, the Bruins have 10 regulars under contract for the next three seasons, and Hamilton would make it 11.
"I think if you look at our signings, we've tried to maintain a core, and I think that's generally what teams try to do," Chiarelli said. "We're not splitting any atoms here. We're trying to lock up our younger players."