It won't be easy for Tyler Seguin to make the NHL jump right away, but he appears ready


Thumbnail image for tylerseguindraftday.jpgFor 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

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.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
Leave a comment

There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.