As far as 23 year-old hockey players go, Tyler Seguin has certainly accomplished a heck of a lot already in his career.
He's won the Stanley Cup, and played in another finals. He's taken part in the All-Star Game. He's one of the highest-scoring players in the NHL, and could have easily won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer this season if a knee injury hadn't cost him 10 games.
One thing that Seguin hasn't done very much of yet, however, is represent his home country on international ice.
While Seguin was still playing in juniors, long before he reached NHL stardom, he did take part in two fairly notable events, suiting up for Team Canada at the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament as well as for Team Ontario at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge. He also represented the Canadian team at the 2012 Spengler Cup while he was playing for EHC Biel in Switzerland's top league, the National League A.
Seguin's teams, I should mention, won gold at all three events.
That being said, though, Seguin still has yet to play in hockey's biggest international tournaments.
He was part of Hockey Canada's selection camp roster for the 2010 World Juniors, but ultimately didn't make the cut. Seguin was only 17 at the time, and Team Canada always has a large stockpile of 18 and 19 year-old players to choose from for that event. He would have been a lock for the team in 2011 and 2012, but by that point he was already an important part of the Bruins and wasn't allowed to go.
His time with the Bruins, as well as the Stars last season, also prevented him from partaking in the World Championships. With the annual event always beginning while the NHL playoffs are still going on, Seguin was too busy chasing Stanley Cups to go. He would have been eligible to go last season after the Stars were ousted by the Anaheim Ducks in the opening round, but for one reason or another decided to not do so.
And then there's the Olympics. The biggest of the big. Despite being one of the NHL's most dynamic offensive players last season, and ultimately finishing 4th in league scoring, Seguin was snubbed by his home country. Perhaps it was because he was still too young. Perhaps because his defensive game wasn't quite up to snuff for the Hockey Canada brass that always covet two-way forwards. Perhaps it was because, at that point in time, he still hadn't fully shaken the dubious "party boy" image that was following him around. We'll probably never find out the reason why.
All of that is going to change on May 1st, however, when this year's World Championships begin.
On a team built by Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill, Seguin will not only be participating, but he'll be one of Team Canada's top offensive weapons. The Canadians are bringing a stacked roster this year, but don't be surprised to see the talented Seguin on the top line (possibly playing alongside Sidney Crosby and Taylor Hall? The imagination salivates).
Naturally, Seguin is excited for the opportunity, as recently outlined by The Dallas Morning News:
One of the oddest things on the hockey calendar are the World Championships, which are scheduled during the NHL playoffs, so it’s kind of a consolation prize to really good hockey players who aren’t playing anymore. Why are you playing this year?
Seguin: Well, I’ve never done it before. Thought it would be a cool idea, cool experience. Any time you get asked to represent your country and wear 'Team Canada' it’s hard to turn it down.
And Stars GM Jim Nill actually selects players for Team Canada?
Seguin: Yeah, I guess it’s kind of hard to say no to him, as well.
On Nill allowing him to play extra hockey for Team Canada rather than saving him exclusively for the Dallas Stars…
Seguin: I think the difference for me is that I did miss that 10 or 11 games this year, or whatever it was…and this is the first year I’ve never made playoffs so I’m not really too sure what to do with myself...I don't feel as tired as I normally would because usually we would play more hockey, then on top of being hurt I feel like I still have some juice left in me, and I wanted to keep playing...Then, they asked me to play, and my first instinct was yes, and I’m following through with that – looking forward to go over there and play.
Not only will this be a great chance for Seguin to play meaningful hockey against some of the best players in the world, but it will also significantly improve his chances at participating in the Olympics in 2018 (if NHL players are still allowed to go, but that's another story), as well as at the newly-resurrected World Cup of Hockey when it begins again in 2016. For years Hockey Canada has used the World Championships as a sort of proving ground, testing players in international situations to see if they could later play well in the Olympics, so if Seguin shines this year it will firmly bump up his stock for future events.
While it's still painful to not be able to watch the Stars in the playoffs right now, it will be great to watch Seguin and others representing their home countries and battling for gold.