Tyler Seguin v.s. Phil Kessel: The Great Debate

Even coaching master mind Guy Boucher couldn’t handle what the Boston Bruins threw at him last night. The Bruins won 6 – 5 in game two of the NHL Eastern Conference finals in a fire fight with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The key cog in the offense? None other than 2010 second overall pick Tyler Seguin. After being benched for the first two rounds of the playoffs, Seguin got his NHL Playoff debut only because of an injury to Boston’s Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron was expected to miss the first game of the series due to a concussion. He sat out game two as well, and in all honesty, the Bruins may be happier now that he wasn’t out there.

Bergeron is a fantastic two way centre, but he’s never been known as a top flight offensive superstar. Last night Seguin single handedly dismantled the Lightning D and crushed them with two goals and two assists. When Tyler Seguin was drafted using the Toronto Maple Leaf’s second overall pick, he was supposed to be an offensive superstar. There were comparisons to Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic and other hall of fame centers, but in the regular season, Seguin didn’t live up to the billing. In 74 regular season games played, Seguin had a modest 11 goals and 11 assists. Decent numbers for an NHL Rookie, but they paled in comparison to others in his draft class like Jeff Skinner and Taylor Hall.

There were whispers in the Boston media that Seguin was a bust, and that the Bruins would have been better served to have a proven sniper like Phil Kessel in the line up. It was Kessel after all, that the Bruins shipped to Toronto for the draft picks that turned into Seguin, Jared Knight, and the ninth overall pick this season. The question is, if Kessel was still around, would the Bruins be better off?

Kessel had a great year for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Registering 32 goals and 32 assists good for 64 points in 82 games played. Those numbers place Kessel 36th in the league in scoring during the regular season. In comparison, the Bruins top scorer, David Krejci, had 62 points during the regular season. Kessel would have been the Bruins leading scorer this year, but would he have been their best player?

Most of the Bruins’ best players were +20 or higher on the season, meaning they were effective two way players. Phil Kessel on the other hand was a woeful minus 20. Despite the fact that Kessel scored an impressive 32 goals this year, 20 more goals were scored against the Leafs when he was on the ice than the Leafs themselves scored. That is horrible. It is an indication that Kessel was not defensively sound. There was also the fact that Kessel often disappeared for stretches of the season, especially when the rest of the team’s offense dried up and they needed him the most. Is Kessel the guy who would be stepping his game up for Boston right now? I doubt it.

Seguin however, has taken the opportunity presented to him and run with it. He has 6 points in 2 career playoff games, and single handedly resurrected the Bruins offense yesterday. He finally got powerplay time, and made the most of it. The kid is on a tear, and it’ll take some defensive adjustments on the part of Guy Boucher to stop him. His speed, skill and hands make him a formidable offensive talent, and if the Bruins can harness his abilities, the Stanley Cup is easily within reach.

Kessel was no slouch in the playoffs, with 11 career points in 11 career playoff games. Not too shabby, but the Bruins were eliminated prematurely with Kessel running the show. So I pose the question to you. Who would you rather have on your team? Phil Kessel the disappearing act? Or 19 year old Tyler Seguin? U Be the Critic.