Haggerty: Seguin responds to healthy scratches

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Haggerty: Seguin responds to healthy scratches

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

DETROIT While Tyler Seguins rookie season hasnt lived up to the hype machine this humble hockey writer was included in that fickle piece of machinery and the patently unfair Steven Stamkos comparisons, the 19-year-old has shown he knows how to rise to the occasion.

And he did it again Sunday.

After sitting out a pair of games as a healthy scratch including an epic beating of Montreal that must have been difficult to watch from the press box Seguin was back in the lineup Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.

More than simply filling a spot, though, he scored a goal in Bostons 4-2 loss and was as involved and engaged as hes been all season. The 19-year-old finally raised his game to the intensity level and pressure needed as the season heads into its final two months.

Seguin was also in the middle of a neutral-zone breakdown that led to Detroits game-winning goal by Kris Draper in the second period. Dennis Seidenberg joined Andrew Ference to help prevent Patrick Eaves from gaining the blueline on one side of the ice, and Draper sneaked behind an unsuspecting Seguin for an odd-man chance that he buried high to the blocker side of Tim Thomas.

He kind of sneaked behind all of us, and me and Seidenberg talked about it after the play to make sure it didnt happen again, admitted Seguin.

But thats part of the roller coaster, up-and-down polarizing process that comes with breaking a raw hockey talent into the best league in the world.

Mark Recchi has seen a lot of prodigies come and go over his 20-plus years in the NHL, ranging from Eric Lindros to Sidney Crosby, and hes worked side by side with many of them in their rookie forays into the league.

That gives him a unique ability to look at Seguins first season with more perspective than the average Bruin.

Recchi didnt deny Seguin was more of a raw project from a maturation perspective than Stamkos, Crosby, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal or any of the other young players hes helped shepherd along the way.

Absolutely. Maturity-wise, yeah," said Rechhi.

"But were watching him mature as he goes, and thats great. He wants to get better, and you see it. The worry would be if you didnt see that in his eyes. But I do. This is a process for him, and this is real learning year for him, said Recchi of Seguin, who has nine goals and nine assists this season and is pacing for close to 30 points. You can see it. You can see hes maturing as the year goes along. Hes a good kid that wants to get better. But hes also very raw, and hes got a lot to learn.

We know hes talented as hell and hes going to be a great player. His attitude has been great through all of this. Its not always easy going out, but you go and you work hard, get in the gym, and build up your strength. This is a building year for him toward bigger and better things.

Did everyone -- including expectant teammates, excited hockey executives and prone-to-hyperbole media -- perhaps underestimate just how raw Seguin was headed into this season?

I think so, said Recchi. I mean, hes really, really raw, but hes going to get polished. Hes working with the coaching staff and being around Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, watching how to play center, is going to help him for sure. Just by watching how they handle things and how they do things is a great thing for him. Bergie is very professional in how he prepares for games, and its really good for Seguin to see that. Bergie really isnt that much older than Seguin, so its really good.

Hes working at it and hes really getting there. Hes really starting to figure out what it means to be a pro and what it takes to be a good player

There is one thing Seguin showed on Sunday and has done throughout the season that portends something bigger and better coming: His response when hes pushed a bit by the team. Whether its a healthy scratch or the looming threat of being returned to junior hockey, every time something has been thrown at the youngster hes responded with vigor and production.

Seguin scored a goal in a 2-0 win over the Maple Leafs just hours before he learned he wouldnt be returned to juniors after moments of uncertainty, and he responded again with a goal in Philadelphia just as he was rumored headed back to the World Junior tournament.

Following his first healthy scratch of the season on Dec. 15 against the Buffalo Sabres, Seguin again responded with a strong effort at the Bell Centre vs. the Canadiens.

That Seguin string of cause-and-reaction extended to Sundays solid offensive showing against the Red Wings. Seguin earned more than 13 minutes of ice time, put a pair of shots on net and played with some physical engagement and battle thats necessary for everyone this time of year.

I wasnt thrilled about being scratched. You want to be playing in every possible game that you can, said Seguin. I felt great today. I felt like I had my legs and I felt like I really wanted to get more involved in plays. I thought I did a better job than I was doing before, and that I was playing a little more consistently.

You really see the game from a different perspective while sitting. You realize you have more time with the puck to make plays than you think you do on the ice. You have that extra second to make that smart play. I think there still some glimpses of me throwing the puck away a tad too early, but I think Im on the right track.

Its impossible to expect Seguin to be the finished product when so much strength, experience and confidence is still missing from the final polished hockey package, and it wont be present at any point this season.

Versus and NBC analyst Mike Milbury was 100 percent dead on the money when he said on WEEI 850 earlier this season that Seguin wont be an impact player for Boston this year, and was roundly criticized for it.

But just because Seguin wont be a top shelf offensive player right out of the gate this season doesnt mean that the fast-moving, dangerously-skilled puck prodigy cant help the Bruins.

With his speed and shooting ability Seguin can and will help, and hes already proven hes up for a challenge when its thrown in front of him.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins make official free agent signings of Liles, Nash, Khudobin

Bruins make official free agent signings of Liles, Nash, Khudobin

The Bruins made a number of signings official on the first day of NHL free agency on Friday along with the big prize in hard-hitting, productive center David Backes.

Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin signed a two-year deal worth $1.2 million per season to return as a goaltending tandem with Tuukka Rask as they were back in a highly successful 2012-13 NHL season.

Hustling, grinding fourth line forward Riley Nash was signed to a two-year, $1.8 million contract with the Bruins as well, and had nine goals and 22 points in 64 games for the Carolina Hurricanes last season in an energy forward role. In his five-year NHL career, Nash has played in 242 games, amassing 31 goals and 50 assists for 81 points with 69 penalty minutes, including a career-high 10 goals a couple of years ago with the Hurricanes.

The 36-year-old John-Michael Liles signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Bruins after arriving from Carolina at the NHL trade deadline last spring. Liles appeared in 17 games and notched six assists along with a minus-6 rating for the Bruins in 2015-16 after being acquired for Anthony Camara, a 2016 third-round pick and a 2017 fifth-round pick on February 29, 2016. Prior to joining up with Boston, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Liles played in all 64 games for Carolina, recording six goals and nine assists for 15 points with 16 penalty minutes.

“We went out to identify a primary target in David Backes as a center, right wing candidate. He provides depth and balance to our lineup, as did Riley Nash. And Anton Khudobin addressed an area that we seemed to have chased for a little while and possibly with Malcolm’s [Subban] injury we needed to address that for the next couple of seasons. John-Michael Liles is a player that we acquired last year that really added a lot to the mobility and the transition game and we’re excited about bringing him back,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “Tim Schaller was a local boy at Providence College that we went out and identified another size, strength, left-shot, penalty kill and continued to add depth. Tyler Randell emerged last year was on our roster all year long, contributed and was a real hard-nosed player, sticks up for his teammates, was able to contribute goals, albeit not necessarily in the lineup every night, bringing balance. And Tommy Cross and the leadership qualities he brings to Providence for younger players to continue to develop.

“He found himself playing in NHL games, acquainted himself very well, just a real quality person across the board. So I think the overall philosophy of today and going into the free agent period was to address some needs and we did that. But we’ve created what I think is a real internal competition for our younger players to step up and emerge around what I think we’ve added to the core group of our players. They should be excited about this opportunity.”

Tommy Cross, Tyler Randell and Tim Schaller all signed one-year, two-way deals with the Bruins for an NHL value of $600,000, but are all expected to play the bulk of the season at the AHL level barring anything unexpected. 

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

David Backes on the Felger and Mazz show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and simulcast on CSN, tells fill-in hosts Jim Murray and Greg Dickerson there has also been some discussion with the Bruins of putting him on the wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Watch the video above for more. 

Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency

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Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency

The Bruins lost a number of free agents on after the market opened at noontime. None bigger than Loui Eriksson signing a six-year, $36 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks to play with the Sedin Twins.

It’s the exact level of term and salary that Eriksson said he was looking for from the Bruins in contract negotiations around the trade deadline, but the Bruins never really moved from their offer of a four-year deal at comparable money.

The Bruins will miss the 30-goal production and solid all-around, two-way play from Eriksson as he heads to the West Coast, but they also traded in a passive player in Eriksson for an in-your-face, physical leader in David Backes on a five-year deal. 

Backes is much more of a Bruins-style player than Eriksson could have ever hoped to have been. That part of it is a win for a Bruins fan base that wants intensity and physicality from their players.

The Bruins also watched Jonas Gustavsson sign a one-year, $800,000 contract with Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers, Brett Connolly sign a one-year deal for $850,000 with the Washington Capitals, Zach Trotman signs a one-year deal for $950,000 and Lee Stempniak ink a two-year, $5 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after being a non-contract training camp invite with New Jersey last season.

Sweeney had maintained as late as Thursday that he was still keeping ties with many of Boston’s free agents prior to the noon opening of the free agent market, but clearly that’s changed.

“We’ll continue to have talks and sort of figure out where things may go. We’ve had talks with a number of players to see what they would like to see as the opportunity here or what we see as a fit,” said Sweeney on the Torey Krug conference call on Thursday night. “I haven’t ruled absolutely any of that out; just haven’t found common ground and obviously it gets harder and harder as we go further along in the process.”