With a team-leading 67 points and a plus-34 rating, Bruins forward Tyler Seguin clearly improved from his rookie season to his second year in 2011-12.
And the 20-year-old doesn’t sound like he’s satisfied with just a 45-point improvement and enough defensive strides to earn a spot on Patrice Bergeron’s line for most of the season.
“I think my main focus is definitely my board work, with just battling competing, something that I tried to raise in my game style this year,” Seguin said during the Bruins’ breakup day last week. “But you can still get a lot stronger. I think if I work on my core a lot in the summer, I can still get that more of a man strength, I guess.”
Seguin’s third year is going to be more difficult than his second season, and his continued improvement is going to be vital to the Bruins’ chances of returning to elite status after this year’s first-round flameout.
For more on my take on Seguin’s third season, read my column at CBSBoston.com.
There are two key points I wanted to touch on that I didn’t get to in the column:
1. Seguin should be ready to orchestrate the power play next season, which would be a welcome respite from watching Zdeno Chara and company endlessly firing shots from the point that more often than not don’t get through or go to where no Bruins teammate can get them. The puck needs to be in Seguin’s hands so he can utilize his wicked shot and his outstanding vision. He says he’s going to improve his ability to battle. If he does, then there are no more excuses for not running one of the power-play units through him. He says he’s ready for the challenge.
“The power play’s kind of been my thing. My whole life I’ve liked the power play and that was part of my game. I think just with still gaining experience, I have a couple years now and learning more spots on the power play, it’s something I can only improve on.”
“That’s what I’m hoping for,” he continued when asked about working the half-wall the way Marc Savard used to. “It’s still a lot different in juniors on the power play. That was kind of my go-to a lot of times and here in the NHL, it’s still about that learning factor and finding spots on the ice and that’s only going to come with more experience.”
2. It might be time to get a longer look at Seguin at center. If Chris Kelly or Gregory Campbell leave as a free agent, that opens up at least one center spot. Obviously, it’d be easier if Kelly was the one to leave because none of Seguin, Bergeron or David Krejci is going to center a fourth line. But even if the Bruins continue to have an overabundance of centers, they might want to designate a portion of next season to having him play center, even if it means shifting Krejci or Kelly to the wing. Sure, they were second in the NHL in goals last season. But we all know how inconsistent the Bruins’ offense could be. It’d be interesting to see how he’d respond if he was able to generate more speed out of the defensive zone with the puck, take some key faceoffs and apply all of defensive lessons to playing in the middle. It would probably aid whichever “puck-moving defenseman” the Bruins throw to the wolves next season to have Seguin coming back deep to support the breakout. As long as he continues to improve his NHL-level intensity, the Bruins have to think about tapping into Seguin’s talents more than they have so far.