Tyler Seguin of the Boston Bruins is one of many surprise names in the rumor mill as the draft draws near. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK/NEWARK – When Tyler Seguin’s agent got off the plane in Newark Saturday, he was blindsided by tweets and chatter that the Boston Bruins have put his client on the trade market. Just days after playing in the Stanley Cup final for the Bruins, Seguin appears to be very much in play leading up to the draft and will be a prominent figure leading up to the draft Sunday afternoon.
The only other player receiving more attention is Tampa Bay refugee Vincent Lecavalier, who could have as many as 15 suitors seeking his services before long. By the end of the day Saturday, Lecavalier will have met with as many as eight teams – Toronto, Detroit, San Jose, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Anaheim, Montreal and Dallas – with more to come. And when there’s this much competition for a player, the dollars go up and common sense seems to go out the window.
But then there’s Roberto Luongo or Corey Schneider, as the Vancouver Canucks continue to bobble the ball on their goaltending file to the point where they’ve pretty much devalued both their goaltenders. And let’s not forget about Kris Letang, David Bolland, Mike Cammalleri, Alex Edler et al. Also on tap is the fate of Danny Briere, another buyout victim (?) who will draw interest from almost as many teams as Lecavalier. It’s been suggested that the New York Islanders have the inside track because it will give Briere a chance to play on an emerging team and be close to his children.
As Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole would say, everything is happening. Or, depending upon the source, nothing is happening. Draft weekend can be a little funny that way. Leading up to it, there’s always furious chatter that picks and players will be dealt at a dizzying pace, then sometimes most or all of it fizzles out.
But the Bruins will definitely be one team worth watching as this process unfolds. They have roughly $5.8 million in cap space for next season, which won’t even be enough to sign restricted free agent Tuukka Rask. The speculation is that the Bruins will likely sign their goaltender to a seven-year deal worth somewhere in the range of $50 million. And with Patrice Bergeron eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after next season, the Bruins appear eager to get something done with him on an extension before long. That deal is expected to be eight years and $52 million, which would mean a cap hit of $6.5 million a year.
So you can see the conundrum they face with Seguin, who carries a cap hit of $5.75 million through the 2018-19 season. The Bruins are also faced with the prospect of replacing Nathan Horton, who declared he will not re-sign with the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent. (The opinion of this corner? Horton is taking a big risk. He has a great situation in Boston and, though he’ll get more money elsewhere, he might not have the chance to win anywhere else that he has in Boston. And an FYI to teams pursuing him, it would be best if you’re a legitimate Stanley Cup contender because that’s the time of the year when Horton shines brightest. During the regular season, you might be left wondering at times why you’re shelling all this money out to him.)
If Seguin is traded, the Bruins want a top-10 pick or an elite prospect who is on an entry-level contract. The Bruins traded their first-round pick, which is 29th overall, to the Dallas Stars to get Jaromir Jagr at the trade deadline and want to get back into what is projected as a draft with quality and depth. One team that appears to be a fit is the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are picking in the No. 3 spot, along with the Calgary Flames. They pick sixth, but also have additional first-rounders at 22 and 28, courtesy the Jay Bouwmeester and Jarome Iginla picks, respectively. The Carolina Hurricanes have been rumored to be shopping the No. 5 pick, but apparently aren’t interesting trading it for Seguin.
The thinking with the Bruins is this: Seguin was drafted with the intention of having him eventually be the No. 1 center, but his play at that position has decreased every season in Boston and he is now used almost exclusively as a right winger. His production has been spotty and the Bruins are apparently concerned with his off-ice activities. Even if they don’t ultimately trade him, putting him out there on the market might be the Bruins way of telling Seguin that some off-ice maturing might be in order.
With respect to Lecavalier, it apparently hasn’t dawned on a number of teams that the Lightning are prepared to pay him $32.7 million to not play for them. And the more teams that get involved in pursuing him, the more the price is going to go up, both with respect to money and term. With that kind of interest, Lecavalier has basically guaranteed himself at least $5 million a year on a multi-year deal, if not more. It’s essentially the perfect situation for Lecavalier, one of the few players who will hit a financial jackpot, essentially because of the lockout and the new collective bargaining agreement.
And of course, sometime about 3 p.m. Sunday, the Colorado Avalanche will presumably announce they’ve selected Nathan MacKinnon with the first overall pick. Unless, of course, they decide to trade it.
Ken Campbell is the senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. To read more from Ken and THN's other stable of experts, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Ken on Twitter at @THNKenCampbell.