The Boston Globe recently reported Claude Julien is considering scratching former second overall draft pick Tyler Seguin once the playoffs begin. For good reason – the kid has been underwhelming relative to expectations with just 11 goals and 22 points in 72 games. His mediocre counting stats are matched by below average advanced numbers: he is underwater in terms of possession (-3.51/60 corsi) despite playing against some of the softest competition for the Bruins and starting more often in the offensive end.
In short, everything about Seguin was easily replaceable this season. This is not a grave indictment of his value as prospect for Boston – the truth is almost all teenagers struggle to find their footing at the NHL level and many go on to become excellent players anyways. The Jeff Skinners of the world are the rare exceptions.
Unfortunately for Boston, Seguin’s nominal contributions cost them one-third of his valuable entry-level contract. Under the current CBA, ELC’s are capped meaning they can yield extremely high value-to-cap-hit ratios if managed properly. Seguin could have been returned to junior this season and the clock on this NHL contract wouldn’t have started ticking. Instead of paying Seguin for his 18, 19 and 20 year old seasons, the Bruins could have delayed his professional arrival and garnered more value from his ELC through his 20, 21 and 22 year old seasons when he would no doubt be a far more accomplished player.
This is an argument Tyler Dellow forwarded this past summer in regards to Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson:
It’s a simple enough proposition: you only get three years with these guys on entry level contracts and you might as well use them when the player in question is a stronger player. As I’ve pointed out before, on teams like Detroit and New Jersey, teenagers virtually never make the team. There was lots of talk, when the Oilers installed Tambellini as general manager, that they were moving towards more of a Detroit model. I made this point then, but there’s more to doing what Detroit does than having a lot of people in your management group. They do smart things, like not forcing teenagers into the lineup and wasting their cheap years on 45 point seasons.
Hall and Svensson held their own as rookies, but Dellow’s claim has been vindicated by the Oilers results: the kids didn’t blow the doors off, the club was terrible and now the organization has hastened the impending arrival of each youngster’s second contract (which is bound to be orders of magnitude more expensive) with nothing to show for it.
There may be other reasons the Oilers management group decided to play their top prospects this season – marketing, a dearth of other on-ice options, etc. The Bruins, however, had no real need for Seguin this year because the team isn’t selling hope to the fans in a bid to divert attention from a terrible record and the forward lines were stocked with capable veterans.
The only remaining defense of promoting Seguin is one of development. It’s possible that Seguin was too far ahead of his junior peers to garner any developmental value from another season in the minors, meaning his progression may have stagnated if the Bruins had decided to demote him. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to prove or disprove that assertion either way. What’s certain is this: the Bruins are going to be paying a 20/21 year old Tyler Seguin way more than they had to in a few years time.