Bruins and Stars benefitting from summer blockbuster
Tyler Seguin and Loui Eriksson will forever be linked as the two main pieces of the Bruins-Stars trade this past Independence Day. So far Seguin has had the upperhand between the two with 19 goals in his first season in Dallas, while Eriksson has battled concussion symptoms over the course of his first three months in Boston.
There’s no denying that Dallas fared well in that deal with Seguin and Rich Peverley. But, even with Eriksson’s head injury, Peter Chiarelli and company are also benefiting from the trade, thanks in large part to Reilly Smith.
Entering training camp, Smith was hoping to be one of the 12 forwards on the opening night roster. The Miami (Ohio) alum not only made the team, but is making quite the headlines here in The Hub of Hockey.
After starting on the third line this season with Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron – and eventually Carl Soderberg – Smith developed quite the chemistry with the two forwards. With the recent string of injuries and the flu going around the B’s locker room, Smith found himself on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Even with his new linemates, Smith continues to produce and surprise many as the team’s leading goal scorer; lighting the lamp 14 times in the first 39 games and is on pace to net nearly 30 tallies in the 2013-14 season. For a guy who was considered a “throw in” he’s provided plenty of fireworks in his first three months of the season.
But don’t tell Claude Julien that Smith was a “throw in.”
“I think if anything, this guy has been a good player from day one,” Julien said after Friday’s 5-0 win over the Ottawa Senators, a game which Smith recorded his third two-goal performance of the season. “I don’t think he was ever looked upon as just a throw in because if you look back at his college years, he was a pretty good player. So he’s come in here and he’s been given an opportunity to play on a regular basis in the NHL and he’s starting to showcase what he’s capable of doing.”
Smith started the season averaging between 11 and 13 minutes a night. Over time, that number continues to increase to nearly 14-16 minutes per game that includes a good amount of time on the power play.
Sure, Smith isn’t on the first power play unit. But on the second unit, Smith is making the most of his opportunity playing on the point. Those results have shown as his four goals on the good for second on the team and, after years of futility on the power play, he’s done his part to put the B’s in the top 10 on the man advantage.
“Throw in” or not, Smith continues to play with something to prove.
“My first thing coming to this team was just to make the team,” said Smith, who’s 30 points are second on the team behind David Krejci (34). “Everything is going pretty well right now; the thing is not to be happy with where you are, just to keep pushing, and if you’re on a hot streak, it can turn cold really quickly. So [I] just keep a positive attitude and the same outlook going into each day.”
Even fellow newcomer Jarome Iginla is seeing consistency from Smith.
“He’s been on fire, but he’s also played well all year,” said Iginla, who is tied for second on the team along with Lucic with 12 goals on the year.
“He has obviously nice hands around the net and he’s been key on our power play. He’s helped that out a lot, so in all different areas, not just the goals that he’s scoring lately he’s been really good for us all year and it is nice as a young guy to see him come in and have that confidence and a big part of the offense and the team all the way around.”
Like Seguin during his time in Boston, Smith has benefited from playing with Marchand in the last few weeks. Lately the two have developed quite the chemistry leading the team during odd man rushes and finding the back of the net.
“He’s a very talented player and you see that in a lot of the plays that he makes,” the fourth-year Bruin said about Smith. “You know he’s not a huge guy but he goes into the dirty areas, he gets in on the forecheck and gets in front of the net and it’s paying off for him right now.”
Not only is it paying off for Smith, but its paying off for Seguin who is now a focal point on the Stars top line. But with Smith, Eriksson (when healthy) and Matt Fraser, who has spent the last few games in Boston after starting the year in Providence, the Bruins aren’t complaining about the return from Dallas.
Chiarelli’s history of shrewd trades are well documented, including this one and the Phil Kessel trade in 2009. But his wheeling and dealing have helped the Black and Gold become perennial Stanley Cup contenders. This summer blockbuster with Dallas GM Jim Nill, who also benefitted from the trade, was no different.