Bruins acquire Eriksson to fill hole on right wing
BOSTON -- It doesn't matter how high you're drafted, what it took to acquire you in a trade, or how much you're being paid. If the way you play the game doesn't fit the blueprint Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has for his roster, you're expendable.
The Bruins saw this trade as an opportunity to bring in Eriksson, a 27-year-old left-shooting right wing, to boost their Eastern Conference championship roster. Seguin was drafted as a center but played right wing his first three years in the NHL. With the probable departure of wings Nathan Horton and Jaromir Jagr via unrestricted free agency, in addition to the trade of Seguin and Peverley, the Bruins were left thin on the right side of their forward depth chart.
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"He's a good two-way player," Chiarelli said of Eriksson. "He knows where to find the spots and score. [He] has a good shot, good release from either side. He can play on the [power play], can play on the half-wall. [He's] probably better suited for off the post, down low, which I'd like to get some left-shot skill too. That's what makes him even more attractive, that he can play the right side and he has left-shot skill. He spreads out your power play. He's fast and a good two-way player. There's a lot of his game that fits into how we play."
Eriksson scored 12 goals (two on the power play) in 48 games for the Stars in 2012-13. In his previous three seasons, he averaged 27 goals after he set a career high with 36 in 2008-09.
The Bruins' power play could use a jolt: Boston's man-advantage clicked at 17.5 percent in the playoffs after it ranked 26th at 14.8 percent in the regular season. At 5-on-5, Eriksson projects to play on right wing with left wing Brad Marchand and center Patrice Bergeron, a spot Seguin manned for much of 2012-13.
The Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin trio was the Bruins' best line in the regular season. Seguin finished with 16 goals and 32 points in 48 games. Injuries and a lack of production throughout the Bruins' lineup in the postseason led to the breakup of that line, and Seguin scored one power-play goal in 22 playoff games during the Bruins' run to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Seguin also struggled in the 2012 postseason with two goals and three points in seven games. In 2011, when he was a bit player for the Stanley Cup championship Bruins team, he contributed three goals and seven points in 13 games.
Seguin was chosen with a draft pick acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 2009 trade for forward Phil Kessel. Throughout his three years in the NHL, Seguin improved his two-way game but remained a work in progress.
Rumors that Seguin might be traded surfaced during the NHL Draft last weekend. At the conclusion of the draft in Newark, N.J., on Sunday, Chiarelli made some comments criticizing Seguin's professionalism and the player's need to "commit to focusing on his game." Those comments were widely believed to be a shot at Seguin's off-ice life.
"I think what's import to remember about Tyler is that he came here with much pomp and circumstance and he played very well for a young player," Chiarelli said. "This year wasn't his best year but it was a trying year and a weird year to assess players. And Tyler's a real good kid. I see the Twitterverse, or whatever it's called, all these reports about his extracurricular stuff. And I've made comments as to his professionalism and acting more like a professional. But what has to be remembered in all of this is that he's 21 years old, he's a good kid and he's a terrific player. And he's probably better suited for center. He was very good for us as a winger. And I think you'll see him playing center in Dallas."
Peverley also had a down year with two goals in the playoffs after he produced six goals and 18 points in 47 regular-season games. With the departures of Seguin, Peverley, Horton and defenseman Andrew Ference since the end of the season, the Bruins have lost several key contributors from the teams that went to the Cup Final twice in three seasons.
"It's a tough conversation to tell them that they're traded. It's a tough conversation with Rich to tell him that we were going to trade him," Chiarelli said. "These are moves that are predicated on being a successful franchise going forward and making the prudent moves in a timely manner to capitalize on the market as it stands."
Though Eriksson was the centerpiece of the trade going from Dallas to Boston, Chiarelli also picked up three prospects. The GM said 23-year-old Matt Fraser is a forward with an NHL shot who will compete for a job on the Bruins roster next season. Chiarelli said Reilly Smith, 22, is "a silky smooth type of right winger," and defenseman Joe Morrow, 20, could be a big part of the Bruins' future.
"[Morrow is] still a young player," Chiarelli said of Morrow, the Pittsburgh Penguins' first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft who was acquired by Dallas in a late-season deal that sent Stars' captain Brenden Morrow to Pittsburgh. "A very strong skater. Finding his way, but we have a lot of time for him and we think he can develop into a top-four NHL defenseman with the right development."
Seguin is set to begin a six-year, $34.5 million contract. Peverley is in the midst of a contract that carries an average annual value of $3.25 million through the end of the 2014-15 season. With Eriksson carrying an average annual value of $4.25 million on a contract that runs through the end of the 2015-16 season, the Bruins save around $4 million in cap space and have about $9 million to work with, according to CapGeek.com.
In addition to re-signing potential restricted free agent goaltender Tuukka Rask, the Bruins will be looking to continue their changes up front. Free agency officially opens at noon Friday.
"We'll go into the free-agent market or trade market," Chiarelli said. "We've got some space, we've got some players amassed that can still move around, so I'm not done yet."