With the news on Friday that the Bruins have placed Jimmy Hayes on waivers for the purpose of buying him out of the final year of his contract, it closes a couple of pathetic chapters in recent Black and Gold lore. First, it closes the book on a misguided Bruins move with the Florida Panthers to swap Reilly Smith for Hayes, and then double down on that mistake by signing the big, loafing Hayes to a contract extension before he’d even played a game in Boston.
In the interest of full disclosure, this humble hockey writer was able in favor of the Smith-for-Hayes move when it first happened, but it was difficult to understand exactly why the player was given a three-year extension before he’d done anything for the Bruins. Per a couple of league sources, the B’s actually reached out over the last month to see if the Panthers were interested in a “trade-back” where they would take back Hayes and the B’s would get Smith back in Boston. Needless to say, it wasn’t a long conversation when the Panthers were presented with the idea of getting back a slow-skating 6-foot-6 forward that plays more like a 5-foot-9 forward.
But that trade was just a minor ripple in the pond for the Black and Gold. The more significant door that’s closed as a result of the Hayes buyout is the Tyler Seguin deal to Dallas almost exactly four years ago to the day. With Hayes and Joe Morrow now out of the fold, the Bruins now officially have nothing to show for the wretchedly one-sided Seguin trade with Dallas just four years ago.
Loui Eriksson walked away as an unrestricted free agent without any trade compensation a year ago, and Matt Fraser left the Bruins as a free agent to sign with the Winnipeg Jets a couple of years ago. He’s since moved over to the pro hockey ranks in Sweden after never being able to get over the hump from a high-scoring AHL forward to an NHL top-6 forward.
The Reilly Smith portion of the Dallas trade bounty became Hayes once the two players were swapped two years ago, and the rest is history.
In total those players combined for 102 goals, 252 points and a plus-50 for the Bruins over the last four seasons while Seguin has posted 133 goals, 306 points and a paltry plus-2 over those past four seasons in Dallas. This isn’t to say that the Bruins were wrong to trade Seguin back over that Fourth of July weekend in 2013 coming off a run to the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. He has undeniable skill, the statistics are eye-popping and he’s fulfilled his destiny as a stats marvel on a series of poor hockey clubs in Dallas.
But Seguin still has never developed as a reliable two-way center at 25 years old, and for all his talents he’s never even been the single best player on any of his NHL teams during his career. In fact that 2010 draft is looking more and more like the St. Louis Blues got the best player mid-first round with their pick of Vladimir Tarasenko, and both Seguin and Taylor Hall are good players never destined to be the true franchise pieces they were hyped as back in the Taylor/Tyler draft craze.
So the Bruins made a determination Seguin needed a well-documented change in scenery, and that part of it is still understandable. Where the Bruins screwed the pooch was not getting first round picks from a team like Dallas along with a veteran replacement piece in Loui Eriksson. Those would have been quality draft picks given how the Stars has fared over the last four seasons, and would have given the Bruins a chance to choose their own proper-fitting pieces rather than accepting bit parts and B-prospects from the Stars organization in terms of Smith, Fraser and Morrow.
That is how you win, or at least survive, trading a young talent like Seguin just as he’s coming into his own after you spent a No. 2 overall pick on him. Peter Chiarelli, backed by Cam Neely, didn’t do that at the time back in 2013 when the Bruins hastily opted to deal away Seguin, and that move played a major role in this Bruins team falling off a cliff for a couple of seasons before getting things back on track last season.
It was one of the big items that cost Chiarelli his job in Boston, and, fair or unfair, it cemented the Bruins with a reputation for a few seasons that it wasn’t a friendly place for young star players like Phil Kessel, Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. More than anything else, it now turns the stomachs of Bruins fans everywhere when they look at the big bag of nothing that the B’s have for dealing Seguin just four short years later.
There’s no denying the Seguin trade was a straight-out debacle for the Bruins, and Friday’s Hayes buyout served as the final footnote to one of the most forgettable epochs in Black and Gold history.