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After trade, Stars plan to shift Seguin back to center

by Corey Masisak

Two weeks ago, Tyler Seguin was answering questions about his lack of offense and being stuck on the third line for the Boston Bruins during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He had new questions to answer Thursday, like, "How does the idea of Tyler Seguin, first-line center sound?"

That appears to be the plan after the Dallas Stars traded veteran forward Loui Eriksson and three prospects (Joseph Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser) to Boston for Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button.

"We're looking at somebody that can obviously play with [Jamie] Benn," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Thursday. "It is a position we wanted to fill, and it is the natural position for Tyler, and he's looking forward to playing it."


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Seguin spent his first three NHL seasons on the wing with the Bruins. He flourished there in his sophomore season on the team's second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Seguin's numbers slipped a bit in 2012-13, and he was demoted to the third line when Jaromir Jagr arrived.

Seguin finished the postseason with one goal in 22 games, though he was second on the Bruins with 70 shots on goal.

The Bruins expect to lose wings Nathan Horton and Jagr to free agency, so there likely was going to be an opportunity for Seguin again in Boston's top six, but now he's going to Dallas training camp as a No. 1 center with a chance for a fresh start.

By slotting Seguin at center on the top line, that likely will move Benn to his wing. Benn, 23, has seen time at center and wing in his four seasons with the Stars.

"He is definitely a great player and seems like a great person," Seguin said of Benn. "I'm looking forward to getting the opportunity to play with him and forming a friendship. I've definitely seen the guy shoot the puck, so I'll definitely be looking for him out there."

Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli caused a bit of a stir Sunday at the 2013 NHL Draft with some pointed comments about Seguin and his need to be "more of a professional." Seguin, 21, was scratched from a game earlier in his career because he showed up late at the arena.

There have been other comments from anonymous Bruins sources about Seguin's off-ice behavior since the trade was raised as a possibility. Seguin and Peverley addressed those comments during a conference call Thursday.

"I definitely heard the rumors and things like that," Seguin said. "When the trade was announced, I don't know if I was surprised. As far as the personal comments, I talked to Peter about it right after the trade had happened. I come to the rink every day and expect to be a professional and work my hardest. Obviously I think the first few years of my career have been a big learning curve and I look forward to getting better every day and I'm definitely motivated to come to a great city like Dallas."

Peverley said, "I think Tyler is under quite the microscope here in Boston. I've heard a lot of things in the past 24 hours about Tyler that I don't think [are] true. It is unfortunate that it is coming to people talking like that. He works very hard. He's gotten a lot more mature in the years I've known him. He commits himself to the game and getting better."

Tyler Seguin
Tyler Seguin
Center - DAL
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 32
SOG: 161 | +/-: 23

By adding Seguin and Peverley, the Stars are deeper at center. Dallas general manager Jim Nill said Peverley, 30, and 22-year-old Cody Eakin are likely to slot in at center on either the second or third line.

"In this business, every day you come to work and try to get better. We're looking at other options, but this adds two [centers] to our roster and we're excited about that," Nill said. "Both are right-handed shots, which you don't find a lot of. This gives us a good mix at center. Really our one weakness here in Dallas is we had no depth at center ice. This gets Benn back to the wing and puts everyone in their proper position."

Peverley played on the third line for most of his 2 1/2 seasons in Boston, splitting faceoff duties with Chris Kelly. He won more than 58 percent each of the past three seasons, a skill that Nill and Ruff said would help the Stars, especially on the penalty kill.

The Stars have now dealt away Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy, Jagr and Eriksson since a few days before the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline, but they still have veterans Ray Whitney and Erik Cole to play in the top six along with Seguin, Benn and either Eakin or Peverley. Another player who could have an impact is 2013 first-rounder Valeri Nichushkin, who slipped to the No. 10 pick where the Stars were happy to scoop him up.

Nill didn't rule out looking for another center when free agency begins Friday, but this certainly stands as a bold trade in his first few months on the job.

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