There are some things in life that will never make any sense to me. 1,500 people waiting in line overnight to enter a supermarket at 6 a.m. for a Grand Opening is high on the list. (For those of you who do not live in North Texas, this actually happened). Even higher on the nonsense list are the people complaining about the contract of Tyler Seguin. “Worst Contract in the NHL,” some summer headlines proclaimed. Wow, that’s some serious hyperbole.
Remember when the Stars signed Sean Avery to a $15.5 million contract then cut him after 23 games? THAT was a bad contract. To call Seguin’s contract horrible is a lesson in short-term memory loss and long-term ignorance. Maybe a little history lesson might clear things up.
On September 13, 2018, Tyler Seguin signed an 8-year contract with the Stars with an AAV of $9,850,000. Earlier that summer the marketplace contract for elite forwards was set when John Tavares signed a 7-year deal with Toronto with an AAV of $11 million per season. Seguin took a little less money than market standard and the Stars gave longer term. The signing was viewed as a classic win-win scenario.
Since coming to Dallas in 2013, Seguin had scored more goals than any other player on the team. The season before signing the extension, Tyler had become one of only three players in Dallas history to score 40 or more goals in a season. Most years, the combination of Seguin and Jamie Benn was the only offensive threat that the Stars could muster on a nightly basis.
From 2013-2018 Seguin scored 173 goals, Benn scored 172, and next on the list was Jason Spezza, who tallied 100 FEWER goals. During the five seasons prior to signing the deal, Seguin led the team in goals four times and overall points twice. Prior to the 2019-2020 season, only 6 NHL players had hit the 70-point plateau for four or more consecutive seasons: Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Blake Wheeler, Nicklas Backstrom, Artemi Panarin, and Tyler Seguin, elite-level scoring. (During free agency that summer, Panarin inked a deal worth $11.6 million AAV).
Letting Seguin become an unrestricted free agent would have decimated the franchise on the ice and destroyed the Stars’ reputation in the DFW sports marketplace. The contract was the cost the Stars had to pay to keep their leading sniper and one of the faces of the franchise in the fold. It was the price you pay to do business. Ironically, some of the people complaining most about Seguin’s contract today would have been screaming the loudest had Seguin been allowed to test the free agent market.
Since the extension, Seguin has more points (181) than any other Star. He played the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs with massive injuries to his hip and knee…injuries so serious, calling them career-threatening is an understatement. Dallas has made the playoffs three of the past four seasons. The one year not in the postseason was 2021 when Seguin missed all but three games rehabbing from multiple surgeries.
Seguin is 31 now and not the fastest skater on the ice. All athletes realize changes to their skill set as they age. The ones who adapt to this harsh reality find ways to stay productive. Even the legendary Nolan Ryan had to add a changeup to his arsenal when his blazing fastball lost some zip. Seguin may not be as quick as he once was, but he’s still valuable in the offensive zone. Under Pete DeBoer’s new system and playing with linemates who can stretch the ice, why can’t Seguin regain his scoring prowess?
Tyler may not be able to speed his way to the net anymore, but has the experience to find gaps in the offensive zone to create quality chances. Seguin is still a hard worker, still a good teammate, still a locker room leader, and still a Top Six forward. Bottom line is the Stars are a better team with Tyler in the lineup.
An NHL analytics expert once told me, “With a small sample size and the right mixture of information, you can make any player in the world look downright awful.” Seguin has not become lazy, fat, or lost dedication to his team or his craft. Back to being 100% healthy again, Seguin should be more effective in his 200-foot game and back to being a threat on the power play. Worst contract in hockey?? Judging the Seguin contract without looking at the full picture is either ignorant or a ploy to create clickbait.
One good thing might come out of the internet noise: a new level of determination. Seguin is very social media savvy and knows what is being written. Not that #91 needs extra motivation, but don’t be surprised if Seguin uses the criticism to make a run at Comeback Player of the Year. Now, that would make a whole lot more sense than any other prognostication heard in the off-season.