TORONTO – Tyler Seguin just threw the ball into general manager Jim Nill’s court.
The Dallas Stars’ top centre stood before rolling cameras Tuesday and said four times that he feels "disappointed" serious negotiations have not begun towards a long-term extension in Dallas.
The sides, he said, spoke informally at the draft in late June but no advancement toward a new contract has been made since.
"Nothing’s really going on," Seguin said. "It’s been a little disappointing. I thought I’d have some exciting news to talk about at BioSteel Camp, especially this late in the summer. It’s been disappointing. But at the end of the day, I obviously have one year left here. I’m just going to focus on that."
Seguin, 26, is about to enter the final year of the six-year, $34.5-million pact he made back in 2012 with the Boston Bruins, with whom he won a Stanley Cup. He scored a career-high 40 goals and put up 78 points in 2017-18 with the Stars and is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Seguin’s current deal carries a team-friendly $5.75-millon cap hit. With the league’s salary cap rising annually, the player — who’s always had a knack for the promoting his personal brand — could double his paycheques come 2019-20, whoever signs them.
Judging by Seguin’s production, position and age, he would be in line for the type of bidding war and raise John Tavares received when the fellow Torontonian hit the open market and signed with the Maple Leafs to the tune of $77 million.
For comparison’s sake, the last time a Dallas all-star became available for a max-term extension, it took Nill all of two weeks to lock up team captain and Seguin’s friend and linemate, Jamie Benn, with an eight-year, $76-million windfall on July 16, 2016.
"I wasn’t really expecting this," said Seguin, who has yet to consider whether he’ll be willing to negotiate in-season. "The expectations were that it would be earlier in the summer."
But the summer of 2016, when Benn re-upped, is not the summer of 2018.
Tavares’s decision to become the highest-profile salary-cap-era hockey star to voluntarily switch colours in his prime has forced us to look at the Seguin situation in a new light, and the Stars have been active elsewhere.
Nill and the Stars, interestingly, were a finalist in the Tavares sweepstakes and have been among this summer’s reported front-runners to land Norris-winning defenceman Erik Karlsson (also UFA in 2019) via trade.
"You see rumours like that every day. I try to take it like winning and losing — even keel. That would be awesome," Seguin said of a potential Karlsson deal. "If it doesn’t happen, I don’t want to be crushed. I think it’s great for our organization, our city and our team that players do want to go.
"Even if we didn’t have long negotiations with Tavares, at least he called and said he was interested. It’s saying something for our team and our organization, and it’s all positive."
Seguin has played all of seven playoff games since being traded to Dallas five years ago (compared to 42 in just three seasons with Boston), and the Stars have missed the playoffs two springs running.
Nill’s hectic off-season featured the installation of a rookie head coach in Jim Montgomery, welcoming back Valeri Nichushkin from Russia, and adding depth UFAs like Blake Comeau, Roman Polak and Anton Khudobin.
If Seguin remains unsigned by July, he will no doubt become the most coveted forward in 2019’s NHL free agency. The message he’s broadcasting is that he’d prefer to stay, and he’d also prefer to win.
"Dallas has been home. I’ve been comfortable in Dallas since I got down there," Seguin said.
"At the end of the day, I want to win. I want to get back in those playoffs and be successful, and I think we’ve got the right group to do it this year."
So, Tyler Seguin, despite your love for Dallas, can you envision going the Tavares route in 10 months’ time?
"I envision giving my all this year and getting back to the playoffs," Seguin deked.
"It’s been a long few summers of no deep runs, and the goal since I touched down in Dallas was to get deep in the playoffs and hopefully win. So that’s my focus."