For some reason – maybe because I’m not a Boston Bruins fan, maybe because my expectations for him are different – I never thought to compare former B’s top draft pick Joe Thornton and their latest potential rookie sensation Tyler Seguin until Kevin Paul Dupont did so for Boston.com.
The two are coming into very different situations, though. While both arrived with plenty of hype, Thornton was given something of a Next One status, garnering comparisons such as an “Eric Lindros/Mike Modano hybrid” as Dupont wrote. Seguin will receive plenty of attention, but he’ll be battling for a spot on a playoff-caliber team instead of shouldering a huge amount of the burden like Thornton did in his rookie year (or Taylor Hall must cope with in Edmonton).
So there clearly are some differences between the two, but Dupont discussed the uncertainty ahead for the Bruins first high-end draft pick – and first player to wear number 19 – since Thornton was traded to the San Jose Sharks (although Phil Kessel might qualify as a high-end draft pick too, though he didn’t sport #19).
“Yeah,” said the much-ballyhooed 18-year-old forward, who arrived in town four days ago in anticipation of the club’s rookie camp next week. “I do believe I am ready.”
For the record, the most talked-about Bruins rookie since Joe Thornton (last seen in the Hub in that No. 19 sweater) said those words evenly and confidently, yet with no amount of hubris nor hint of braggadocio. Seguin’s “ready” is a healthy one, a smart one – verbalized as respect for those already on the roster, and also in acknowledg ment that a mediocre showing in the next 2-3 weeks could return him to the Plymouth Whalers for another year of junior hockey.
“It doesn’t really feel like anything yet,” said Seguin, sitting in the hovel that is the rookie’s dressing room at Ristuccia Arena. “Because the dream and the goal has never been to be right here right now. It has been to be here 2-3 years down the road, you know, playing for an NHL team, eventually starting a family, living in a house, knowing that I am in the spot. That’s the actual dream.
“Right now I can’t say that I’m living that. I am still trying to chase that, it’s what I am striving for.”
While the occasional top defensive or goalie pick might spend some time in the minors or juniors in recent years, it seems like every top forward drafted with the first or second choice in the entry drafts made an immediate jump to the NHL (and most of the time those jumps were pretty successful). Of course, most of those times the team drafting them needed their help right away; the Bruins made the playoffs three seasons in a row and would need to clear some cap space to bring in Seguin during the 2010-11 season. It’s quite possible that the Bruins might buck the trend and allow Seguin to take the marination vs. microwave approach to his development by waiting a while to jump to the NHL.
Considering Seguin’s skill, charisma and the buzz he brings with him as a top prospect, it’s going to be tough to keep him in the minors for long. If he even spends a day there.