“I say y’all once in a while. Fixin’ to do things,” Seguin said adjusting to life in Texas. “It takes a little while transitioning, but I am comfortable saying this is home.”
Seguin, acquired in Boston in a blockbuster seven-player deal last July, made himself at home on the ice, too. He helped lead the Stars to their first playoff berth since 2008. His speed was a driving force behind the way the Stars played. He helped fuel a Stars offense that ranked 10th in the league, up 20th from the previous season.
Seguin set career highs in goals (37), assists (47) and points (84), finishing fourth in the NHL in points and fifth in goals. He had a career-high 11 game points streak, notched three hat tricks and registered 21 multi-point games.
He and Stars captain Jamie Benn (34 goals, 45 assists, 79 points) formed one of the league’s most productive duos by combining for 163 points. Head coach Lindy Ruff put Seguin and Benn together at the start of training camp and the two clicked immediately.
“He’s such a dynamic player,” Benn said early in camp. “He skates so well and his hands can keep up to his feet, which is amazing.”
“I didn’t know he was so quick,” Seguin said of Benn. “He’s an explosive player.”
The two clicked off the ice as well, becoming good friends and adding to the chemistry that formed on the ice.
“I really do believe it is chemistry,” said Ruff. “I think they like playing with each other. They feed off each other. There is great communication on the bench. As a coach, you can throw two guys together and see if it works but that one worked right from training camp when we put them together. They like each other, they hang around with each other and they are good friends.”
Seguin did his homework on Benn shortly after being traded to the Stars last summer, placing a call to Stars GM Jim Nill for some help in scouting Benn.
“I remember getting a phone call from Tyler and he said I need some tapes of Jamie Benn playing. I thought that was pretty impressive,” Nill said. “It was the middle of the summer and he said I want to analyze him. He did. He analyzed Jamie, saw how he plays, came to camp and they hit it off. It’s been magic ever since.”
All of that magic came while Seguin was making some big adjustments in his first season in Dallas, including his first time playing center in the NHL. Boston drafted Seguin as a center second overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, but with the Bruins deep at center Seguin played right wing in his first three years in the NHL.
“I remember talking to Tyler when I made the trade and he was a little worried about playing center,” said Nill. “He said, ‘You want me to be your No.1 center? I’ve got to learn draws now. I’ve got to play against every team’s best players.’ That’s a big challenge for a 21-year-old player.”
Seguin acknowledged there were challenges in the switch to center and the shift to being a big minute guy, something else he didn’t experience on a regular basis during his time in Boston.
“It was my first year back at center. My faceoffs went better as the year went on and in the playoffs. That’s something you get with time and experience,” said Seguin. “It was my first time playing almost 20 minutes a night. I need to work on getting stronger and more conditioned. I lost 16 or 17 pounds since training camp, and that’s something that comes with experience and it comes with getting stronger.”
There were new challenges on the defensive side of things, and Ruff thought Seguin handled those well.
“Above my expectations,” said Ruff. “I never pulled him off the ice once to try to protect him. I told him that if we’ve got you in a situation we don’t like you are going to have to defend through it. He exceeded where I thought he was going to be. I thought against some big men he used his quickness. He was able to get himself in good places to defend with his feet, his stick and his speed. He’s not going to bump the big men off the puck, but he can get in the right place to accomplish that. For me I was scared, I didn’t think he’d be able to do what he did defending-wise and I’ve got to give him a lot of credit for that.”
It was a mixed bag in the playoffs for Seguin. He led the Stars with 25 shots on goal, had plenty of chances but ended up with one goal, two assists and a plus-one rating in six games as the Stars lost in the first round to the Anaheim Ducks.
“We were playing the best team in the West in Anaheim. I thought there were times I was a little frustrated. They were good at shutting me down,” Seguin said. “I thought I was OK in the playoffs. I would have liked a few more goals, of course, but Anaheim is a good team. In the end, we worked pretty hard and walked away after almost every game saying we thought we competed. That’s something we can build off.”
“I thought he worked extremely hard, he skated hard,” said Ruff. “I think there is some maturity when it comes to guarding against the frustration. I thought I saw some of the frustrations of not scoring in the past. You’ve got to battle through that. I thought he was good. I thought his effort was great in the playoffs.”
The effort was there all season for Seguin, who delivered results and lived up to the high expectations put on him when the Stars acquired him in that blockbuster deal with Boston. As for Seguin, he didn’t know what to expect in year one in Dallas, but it may have turned out better than he expected and that has him excited about the future.
“I didn’t have many expectations because I didn’t know what to expect,” Seguin said. “It’s so much new stuff, you’re kind of going in blind and you’re not sure what is going to happen or what to expect. You just focus on what you’ve got to do. Obviously with everything that has happened I may have exceeded any assumption I may have had, and I am really excited to see what could happen in the future.”
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.