Now 19, Bruins’ Seguin should start fulfilling some of his promise

Seguin/By S. Bradley

There’s one race Tyler Seguin always beats Jeff Skinner in.

Yesterday, the Bruins rookie did it again, as he turned the next age number three months before the Carolina first-year standout.

So now Seguin will face his first NHL, post-All-Star-break stretch run as a 19-year-old. It all starts tonight, when he takes on his former minor hockey teammate Skinner in Raleigh in the last regular-season match-up between the Bruins and Hurricanes this season.

This season, Seguin’s Bruins have gotten the better of the Hurricanes in two of three games. But Skinner has put up three points (one goal), while Seguin has been shut out. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Skinner leads all rookies in assists (22) and points (40) and sits second or tied for second in goals (18), power-play points (13), power-play assists (9) and power-play goals (4). Seguin, meanwhile, has been held to just 16 points (seven goals) in 48 games, and he hasn’t scored a goal in eight games.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this for the pair of Ontario natives. As the No. 2 overall pick from last June, Seguin figured to make the NHL roster and be a complementary part. But the Bruins were hoping for a somewhat faster adjustment to the NHL and a little more offensive contribution from the speedster. Skinner, on the other hand, was taken five picks later at No. 7. He was considered a longer shot to make the NHL leap, as evidenced by his presence in the back part of the bio section of the Carolina media guide.

Instead, Skinner has shown the skills, maturity and adaptability to make his first pro season a smashing success and put himself at the top of the Calder Trophy race along with San Jose’s Logan Couture.

The early advantage Skinner has on Seguin, however, doesn’t mean that two years from now we’ll be ripping the Bruins for passing on Skinner. Seguin and Taylor Hall were the hands-down top two prospects last June, according to almost everyone. And we’ve certainly seen flashes of the type of player Seguin can be down the road. Skinner, while great, has walked into a situation where his team didn’t make the playoffs last season and had job openings. Seguin, as we knew all along, was going to be the fourth center or among the bottom four wingers in Boston was fully healthy this season.

We’ll learn a lot more about Seguin’s ability to handle more responsibility and make developmental strides at the NHL level as these final 2 1/2 months of the regular season unfold, especially if Marc Savard is out for the long term. There should be plenty of new opportunities for him to shine.

Regardless of how Seguin and Skinner stack up against one another right now or 15 years down the road, the Bruins made the right choice on draft day. They’ll look more correct though if Seguin starts to become more of the player they projected him to be this season starting tonight.

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