Dallas Stars: Tyler Seguin Ranked On NHL Network’s Top 20 Centers List

Tyler Seguin has spent the past few seasons serving as the top center for the Dallas Stars and making his case as one of the top centers in the NHL. That was reaffirmed on Sunday as he once again cracked the NHL Network’s list of Top 20 Centers. The stage is set for the center to have another impressive season.

When comparing the Dallas Stars team that finished the 2013 lockout-shortened season by missing the postseason for a fifth straight year with the 2019-20 Dallas Stars that came one goal short of a trip to the Western Conference Finals, there’s a significantly stark contrast.

But it’s not just in regards to the levels of success that each team achieved.

While Dallas created three playoff teams (two of which advanced to a Game 7 in the second round), two teams that fell just short of the postseason cutoff, and one team that never seemed to get off of the ground during the six-year span, it was the consistent roster turnover that took the spotlight.

As a result, the Dallas Stars are practically a brand new team now than when compared to the beginning of the 2013-14 season. Their goaltending department is completely revamped, the defense has undergone a complete makeover, the forward group has seen constant change, and the coaching staff behind the bench has been a revolving door.

But through all of the change, there’s been two constants: Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

It may be crazy to think that the two superstar forwards are the only players that have been on the roster over each of the past six seasons, but that’s the reality of the situation.

It’s not difficult to understand why the two are still at the core of the team and playing out the early part of long-term contract extensions, though. That’s especially true for center Tyler Seguin.

When the Dallas Stars acquired Seguin as the primary piece of Jim Nill‘s first blockbuster trade as GM of the team, there was a sense of cautious optimism that came with the move. Sure, Nill had to deal homegrown winger Loui Eriksson and a chunk of the organization’s prospect pool in order to pull off the deal; but the return was an enticing one.

Seguin was only 21 years old at the time, but had already played a critical role with the Boston Bruins in his first three NHL seasons and helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 2011 as a rookie at the age of 19. His early stats were impressive, especially considering he primarily centered the second and third lines while in Boston.

Upon his arrival in Dallas, the Stars were banking on Seguin as their No. 1 center of the future that would allow Jamie Benn to return to his traditional spot on the left wing and put the team in a position to contend over the next decade.

And while the latter part of that hope is still a work in progress, the former part has been more than satisfied.

Since joining the Dallas Stars at the beginning of the 2013-14 season, Seguin has posted 464 points (206 goals, 258 assists) in 469 regular season games. He owns a plus-minus rating of +31, averages 19:45 on the ice per game, and owns a face-off win percentage of 52.5 percent over his six seasons with the organization.

Seguin has fully embraced the No. 1 center role on the team, become a leader on the ice and in the locker room, and has fully embraced the role of humanitarian through his efforts in the DFW community. And with just hours separating the center from starting 2018 training camp this past September, he recommitted to the Dallas Stars’ vision by signing an eight-year contract extension valued at $78.8 million.

He’s a prime cornerstone in the Dallas Stars’ game plan, contributing on offense and defense as well as on the power play and penalty kill. When combining his speed, puck-handling skills, playmaking abilities, shooting accuracy, and his ability to thrive in a number of situations, it’s hard to not view Seguin as one of the best centers in the NHL.

And on Sunday night, the NHL Network reaffirmed that point when they named Seguin to their Top 20 Centers list.

The NHL Network does an annual breakdown of the top players at each position and typically saves their reveal for the month of August when news and transactions are few and far between across the League. As a result, this isn’t Seguin’s first time cracking the list of Top 20 Centers.

Prior to the beginning of the 2017-18 season, Seguin was pinned as the eighth best center in the NHL. One season later, he dropped one spot to ninth overall on the network’s list.

And while he’s now slotted at eleventh overall, that still marks him as one of the top centers in the game (especially when there are a hypothetical minimum of 124 centers in the NHL at a given time).

In many ways, it’s a fair ranking for Seguin and also leaves the door open for a big year.

After an uncharacteristically slow start to the 2018-19 season that saw Seguin sitting at just 11 goals and 34 points through the first 40 games of the campaign, he and captain Jamie Benn were dealt a harsh dose of criticism from CEO Jim Lites for their “lacking” performances just days after the end of the NHL Holiday Break. For Seguin, his shooting percentage was well below where it typically hovered and he sat atop the NHL in terms of goalposts hit.

But in the second half, he turned his misfortunes around. Seguin turned in his third consecutive 82-game performance with the Stars, tallying 33 goals and 80 points (both of which led the team) as well as a plus-17 rating (which put him second among Dallas skaters). He also led the charge on offense in the postseason with four goals and 11 points in 13 games.

So while the first portion of the season was a bit unusual, the young center still found a way to turn in one of his best campaigns in a Dallas Stars uniform. He hit the 80-point mark for just the second time in his NHL career and also posted the highest plus-minus rating in his time with Dallas. To top it all off, he helped push the Stars to Game 7 in the second round against St. Louis after missing all but one of the Stars’ postseason games in 2016.

“It was a pretty good year,” Seguin said on exit interview day. “Obviously, we got back in the playoffs, had a run, and we’re hungry for more.”

And while Seguin sits at No. 11, there’s reason to believe that this season might be his best yet with the team.

With his new contract kicking in at the start of the 2019-20 season and his salary cap rising significantly, the expectations are high for Seguin moving forward. He’s 27 years old and is entering into the prime portion of his hockey career. He’s a leader in the Dallas locker room and earned the title of alternate captain at the beginning of this past season and knows that the No. 1 center role will continue to rest on his shoulders.

“Everything is going to be easier next year. The games aren’t going to be, but our relationships, the language we use [will be easier]. We should start the season a much more consistent team. We’ll have our ups and downs at some point. But I think, the beginning of the year, the first month should be pretty smooth as far as us getting off the ground.” –Jim Montgomery on exit interview day

But with a full year of working with head coach Jim Montgomery and understanding the new system under his belt, the door seems to be open for Seguin to take full advantage starting on Oct. 3.

His influential role within the team mixed with a stronger supporting cast in Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry should help in making Seguin all the more dynamic and valuable, giving him a chance to play to his strengths without being forced to carry as much of the load on the offensive side as he has in the past.

Next: Jim Nill's Cap Work Helps Stars Craft Big Summer

The table seems to be set for Seguin to turn in a big 2019-20 campaign. With a revamped look on offense after struggling to score in 2018-19 and Seguin stepping into the best years of a hockey player’s career while serving as a leader and critical piece of the lineup, the potential is there for him to soar in the season ahead.

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