Every now and then, a move seems oddly familiar, even if different teams are involved. One could make the argument that there are some interesting/amusing/possibly inane parallels between the trade that sent Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars in 2013 and the move that shipped James Neal to the Nashville Predators in 2014.
(Feel free to disagree with any of these comparisons in the comments, though hopefully without weird anger.)
A) Seguin and Neal
There are some parallels between the players themselves, beyond the fact that both have been paid by the Stars at some point in their NHL careers.
1. Both drew vague criticisms about their attitudes
Seguin (now just 22, somehow) received some heat for supposed partying and other issues. Neal, 26, has had more than a few run-ins with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. One might assume such “character” concerns expedited their departures from Boston and Pittsburgh respectively.
MORE: Neal: “I have to change and be better for it”
2. Each leave East contenders that may still be competitive without them
The Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy last season. For all the turmoil in the Penguins’ organization, many would probably argue that they’re a contender for the Metropolitan Division title, if not aiming higher.
3. Higher ceilings
However you might feel about the packages the Bruins and Penguins received, most would agree that Seguin and Neal probably have more “upside.” Actually, you’d have to strain quite a bit to claim that Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith or Matt Fraser have higher ceilings than Seguin after he jumped another level with Dallas.
Seguin is quite a bit younger and probably creates more offense on his own, yet it’s easy to forget how dangerous Neal can be; not many 26-year-old’s boast a resume that includes one 40-goal season and five other 20+ goal seasons.
4. Disappointing finishes
Despite solid playoff runs, both went out of town struggling individually in the postseason. Neal only managed two goals and four points in 13 playoff games in 2014 after scoring 10 in 13 playoff games in 2013. Seguin only scored one goal and eight points in Boston’s 22-game run to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
5. Cheap deals
Seguin’s $5.75 million cap hit puts him alongside the likes of John Tavares and Victor Hedman as one of the best bargains in the NHL, especially since that deal doesn’t expire until after the 2018-19. Neal isn’t far behind with a $5 million cap hit through 2017-18.
B) Solid Swedes and prospects
The Bruins and Penguins received nice packages for their young forwards, fueling more than a few quantity-over-quality arguments.
Eriksson suffered a rough season in 2013-14, yet the Bruins think he can slide into a first-line role next season. Much like Eriksson, Hornqvist is a very nice player who often gets lost in the shuffle.
He quietly scores plenty of goals, and people are reasonable if they picture him generating even more offense playing in Pittsburgh than he did in Nashville. Hornqvist has one 30-goal season and three 20+ goal seasons, including a 22-goal, 53-point campaign with the Preds in 2013-14.
In other words, the Penguins didn’t exactly get chopped liver, especially if Nick Spaling helps out in solid ways like Reilly Smith has for Boston.
C) Random stuff
- Both Neal and Seguin relocate to “nontraditional” markets with no state income taxes, which probably makes them feel a little better about the bargain deals they’re signed to.
- Neal and Seguin are basically “new toys” for incoming new head coaches.
- Each could represent the beginning of a big change. Seguin’s acquisition preceded the Spezza – Hemsky additions in Dallas while Nashville GM David Poile seems keen on adding more to the mix with his team.
There are plenty of ways these two deals aren’t alike. For one thing, Neal must prove that he can produce without an elite passer making life easy for him; few wingers get blessed with a center group that included Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Brad Richards (at or near his peak).
Even so, it’s interesting to ponder the parallels between the two moves. If you’re a fan of the Predators, you may also start to expect too much …