In the debate of worst trades in the history of Boston sports, Babe Ruth to the Yankees will always stand out. After that, there are a number of trades that come to mind. The Red Sox trade of Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson in 1988 is at the forefront. Joe Thornton to the Sharks during an MVP season is another. There is one trade that will ultimately top them all besides the Babe. Tyler Seguin was traded to the Dallas Stars along with Rich Peverley for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser in 2013. Fraser and Smith are no longer on the Bruins. They didn’t pan out at all and they needed to be moved. Eriksson, despite a strong start this year, has been an annual underachiever who brings little energy and scoring punch to the team. A nice third line winger? Yes. An impact Player? No.
Since being traded to the Stars, Tyler Seguin is third in the NHL in scoring over the past three years. Repeat: The third best scorer in the league. He’s 23 years old. He’s roughly four years away from entering the prime years of his career and he’s already a top three scorer in the league. He is the type of talent that comes around in a sport once every 5-10 years.
The Bruins had the next guy. They had the Andrew Luck. They had the Mike Trout. They had the Stephen Curry. They had the player that was going to be the leader of the next great Bruins era and they gave all of it away for…Loui Eriksson. Why?
Sure, we’ve all heard the Bruins brass led by Bruins great Cam Neely give their reasons. He was not a good fit for their system. He partied too much. He did not produce in the 2013 playoffs. This was a 21 year old who had not completely learned a defensive system during a shortened season. It was player who was dropped to the third line to play with Chris Kelly during a Stanley Cup playoff run. The great Chris Kelly. I wonder how Sidney Crosby would do playing with him. And, of course, how could a 21 year old kid with millions of dollars living in Boston have a little bit too much fun?
Most teams would have dealt with the growing pains knowing the long term impact this type of elite talent would have. But, no. Not in Boston. Not on Peter Chiarelli’s watch. Not on Cam Neely’s watch. The Bruins wouldn’t stand for it. If you don’t adhere to the system at age 21, you’re not going to get the opportunity to grow here. Good luck, elsewhere. See Phil Kessel.
The most amazing part of the Seguin deal? The Bruins originally wanted to deal him because they wanted to sign Nathan Horton. They needed cap room to sign him. Horton moved on in free agency. The Bruins still decided to move Seguin.
On Tuesday, two years after the trade, Tyler Seguin came into Boston after the Bruins were 6-0-1 in their last seven games. Things were looking good. There was a lot of anticipation heading into the game. Seguin came in and scored a hat trick in front of the Boston crowd. One can really wonder what was going through Neely’s head as he sat up there and watched this kid shoot rockets past Tuukka Rask all night. Was he wondering why he put so much faith in Chiarelli? Or was he critiquing his play in the defensive zone? Either way, this trade will ultimately be a huge part of Neely’s legacy as the President of this team. It had a promising start, but the reality is this move set the Boston Bruins back many years.
Imagine if the Lakers had given up on Kobe Bryant because he didn’t play defense when he was 19 and 20 years old? Or how about if the Red Sox had given up on Roger Clemens after a mediocre first two seasons? That’s the type of impact this trade may end up having. Seguin looks poised to be an all time great player. These types of players don’t get traded at any cost. You let it play out and you wait.
The Bruins had the next guy. They didn’t care. They wanted a guy who could play well in the defensive zone. That was their priority.
And they got him…