Seguin takes another step in Star-studded career

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Seguin takes another step in Star-studded career

KANATA, Ont. Tyler Seguin turns 20 as the Bruins prepare for the stretch run of their season.

Hes made a big step forward in his second NHL season, and his All-Star experience this weekend in Ottawa will have long-lasting positive effects on a player still learning just how good he can possibly become. Seguin assisted on a Joffrey Lupul goal in the third period of Team Charas solid 12-9 win over Team Alfredsson at Scotiabank Place Sunday, and he looked dangerous skating with Lupul and Phil Kessel over the course of the 60-minute exhibition.
You learn a ton. Last year was one thing where youre there and youre kind of observing, said Seguin, comparing last years rookie All-Star invite to this seasons entry into the NHL All-Star club. This year it was more talking and conversations. Guys know you by name and stuff like that. You get little details where you can pick their brains a little bit. Look at our first line tonight. You can sit there and talk to them while theyre playing phenomenally, and try to figure the reason behind it so you can be just as good.

Forwards like Corey Perry, Jarome Iginla, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa all manned spots on Seguins team, and thats the kind of veteran influence that can help Seguin continue his learning curve. Bruins coach Claude Julien has often spoke of Seguins development being slowed slightly because the youngster never played in the World Junior tournament or played for a Memorial Cup at the end of a junior hockey season.

So there were times when Seguin had played on the biggest, brightest hockey stage possibly, but winning a Stanley Cup and starring in an NHL All-Star game are the kind of things that show the Bs youngster the path of hockey righteousness.

Its great for a young guy to be around veteran star players in the league that have accomplished something; the way they act, the way they behave, how they approach their preparation for skills and games. Its huge for a young guy to see, said Chara. A lot of players probably think these guys just come and put on their skates and go.

But not . . . a lot of guys warm-up just like they do for other games. Nobody wants to get hurt. Nobody wants to pull anything. The way they are with media, the way they are with fans and the way they are with guys from other teams. Its a good chance for a young player to learn.

Now Seguin will take all of the lessons that he learned during the weekend full of hockey superstars and add them right into a regular season where hes pacing toward 30-plus goals and nearly 80 points if he stays consistent with his numbers in the first half of the year.

Haggerty: Loss of Colin Miller not a significant one for Bruins

Haggerty: Loss of Colin Miller not a significant one for Bruins

There will be some that will absolutely crucify the Bruins for losing Colin Miller in Wednesday night’s expansion draft, and rail against an asset that was lost for nothing. Those people will also miss the absolutely essential point that the whole raison d’etre for an expansion draft is to remove assets from each of the 30 NHL teams, and do it without a cost for the benefit of the new franchise opening up shop in Las Vegas.

It could have been much worse for the Black and Gold as some teams were shipping first round picks to Vegas to shelter their own players from expansion selection, and other teams were losing essential players like James Neal, Marc Methot and David Perron from their respective rosters. The B’s didn’t entertain overpaying simply to avoid losing a useful player, and clearly, they did lose a talented, still undeveloped player in the 24-year-old Miller, who now may be flipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a side deal with Vegas.

But let’s be honest here. A whole lot of people are vastly overestimating a player in Miller that’s long on tools and very short on putting them together, and they’re also vastly underestimating Kevan Miller. The younger Miller can skate like the wind and has a bazooka of a shot when he winds up and fires his clapper at the net.

But despite those clear offensive talents, Colin had the same number of points as stay-at-home defenseman Kevan this season despite the bigger, stronger and older Miller playing three less games this season. Kevan also had more goals (five) and more points (18) than Colin did two years ago in his rookie season for Boston.

This isn’t to say that Colin doesn’t have more discernible offensive skill than Kevan when it comes to moving the puck or creating offense. He does, but all that talent hasn’t manifested into real points, real offense or anything else for the Black and Gold over the last couple of seasons. At a certain point, a prospect like Colin needs to put all the tools together into production on the ice if he wants to become the sum of his hockey parts, and that hasn’t happened in two full seasons in Boston.

Instead, Miller continues to struggle with decision-making with the puck, consistency and finding ways to turn the quality skating and shot package into any kind of playmaking on the ice. Miller had his challenges defensively and he was never going to be the most physical guy on the ice, but those could have been overlooked if he was lighting it up in the offensive zone on a regular basis.

Plain and simple that wasn’t happening, and over the last season 20-year-old Brandon Carlo and 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy passed Miller on the organizational depth chart for right shot defenseman, and either Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller would slot in as the third pairing D-man on the right side. It’s clear at this point that Colin Miller needs more time and patience if he’s ever going to develop as a late-blooming defenseman at the NHL level, and he wasn’t going to get those opportunities to develop in Boston.

So how good can Colin Miller really be if he was about to get buried on a Boston defensive depth chart without much hope of being in the starting six every night unless he was able to magically transform himself into a top-4 guy on the left side?

Clearly, there is risk here as Miller could move on to Toronto, develop into the player that posted 19 goals and 52 points in the AHL a couple of seasons ago and torment the Bruins for the next five-plus years. It would become another arrow in the quiver of those critics looking to hammer GM Don Sweeney and President Cam Neely at every turn, and it would generate massive “Why can’t we get players like that?” homages to the legendary Bob Lobel all across New England.    

But there’s just as good a chance that Kevan Miller will still be throwing hits and soaking up heavy minutes of ice time for the Bruins three years down the road, and that Colin Miller will be out of the league after never harnessing together his considerable talent. Perhaps Sweeney could have been better about securing an asset for Miller ahead of the expansion draft if he knew he was going to lose that player for nothing to Vegas.

The bottom line is that the Bruins were going to lose somebody to Las Vegas in the expansion draft, and the Golden Knights weren’t going to do them any favors by taking on misfit toys like Jimmy Hayes, Malcolm Subban or Matt Beleskey. They did instead lose a player with plenty of raw talent in Colin Miller, but it’s not exactly somebody that’s going to be missed in Boston once Carlo and McAvoy start showing just how bright the B’s future is on the back end starting next season.