Dallas Stars Impact Player Rankings #1: Tyler Seguin

After a superhero-like season, can Tyler Seguin save the Stars from their playoff despair and deliver a second Stanley Cup to Dallas?

In a breakout season for the 22-year-old center, Tyler Seguin chaperoned the Stars back into the playoffs after a five-year absence.

Some arguments can be made for why Seguin might not be No. 1 on our impact player rankings, but too many reasons exist for why Seguin is top dog as he helped turn around a struggling franchise that needed a jolt not only to the roster, but also to the fanbase.

Without Seguin, another season without playoff hockey in Dallas could have sent the Stars into a full rebuilding mode. Instead, the Stars made a conscious effort to trade for Seguin, which filled a deep need at center.

Unfortunately, Stars fans had to see Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith go, but they gained a player in Seguin that felt as if he had been disrespected in Boston, buried in the Bruins depth, with a desire to prove himself.

Everybody loves a comeback, but that sounds funny considering Seguin helped the Bruins to a Stanley Cup in his rookie season at the ripe age of 19.

Eriksson was 28 at the time of the trade, so considering how much younger the Stars got along with Seguin’s production, I’d say the Stars got the better end of that trade.

Seguin is blossoming into a superstar and can cement his superstar status with another season like 2013-14.

Paired alongside Jamie Benn, who obviously could have made a strong case for No. 1 in our rankings, the duo saw each team’s best defensive pair on most nights.

Still, each player erupted for career-highs in goals, assists and points.

Seguin’s 37 goals (5th in NHL) and 47 assists (11th in NHL) for 84 points ranked him fourth in the NHL, behind Sid the Kid, Ryan Getzlaf and Claude Giroux.

A better way to look at it is Seguin was more productive than superstar Alex Ovechkin (79 points), Corey Perry (82) and Phil Kessel (80). That’s pretty impressive, especially for a guy whose career high was 67 points.

But aside from his quantitative production, Seguin’s impact on Jamie Benn is also one of the intangible delights that comes with his game.

In a recent interview on the Ben & Skin Show, Seguin revealed that he and Jamie actually butted heads at the beginning of the season.

Each guy wanted to outdo the other. Competition can be quite a motivator.

Even more so, Seguin’s impact on Benn and the team was imperative to everyone’s development because his addition meant the Stars could move both players back to their respective natural positions. Benn got to go back to wing and Seguin returned to his center position.

What’s weird, is Seguin actually hurt the Stars’ power play statistically, as they were at a 17 percent clip in 2012-13 ago before posting a 15.9 percentage last season, but despite those odd numbers, Seguin is clearly one of the Stars’ top weapons along with Benn on the power play. His 11 goals ranked him tied for eighth in the league.

He sort of emulates Ovechkin with his spot on the left circle and ripping one-timers on the power play, but Seguin has shown a bevy of playmaking skills as well.

His passing is very accurate and strong, which reminds me of Modano’s passing in the way the puck would sometimes rocket off other players’ sticks.

His wrist shot, which he gets off lightning fast, and his slap shot are deadly accurate as he outdueled Benn, arguably the team’s top sniper, with a shooting percentage of 12.6, while also roasting 294 shots at goal – tying him for fourth most shots in the league.

He's also got great eye-hand coordination, scoring several goals on tips around the net, while showing a propensity to score in bulk as he registered three hat tricks, including a four-goal game against Calgary.

Which brings me to my next point; with the addition of Jason Spezza, Seguin will get the occasional break from other teams’ top defensive pairs. That has the potential to be huge for Seguin’s game.

Heading into a promising season for the Stars, the sky seems like the limit for this guy.

Seguin was voted sixth in the Hart Memorial Trophy and fourth in Lady Byng Memorial Trophy voting – just three years after posting 22 points in his rookie season.

But back to Seguin’s age.

The Stars have the young center locked up for an absolute bargain if you ask me at $5.75 million a year for the next five seasons.

The Penguins are paying Crosby $8.7 million per year for the next decade, which considering his health concerns, seems curious. Getzlaf is earning $8.25 million for the next eight years and Giroux is making $8.275 for the next eight seasons.

I love where the Stars have him at.

Another jewel on Seguin's crown of influence is his leadership. He's been a key cog in changing the losing culture the Stars had seemed to succumb to.

Seguin said early in the season when the Stars started the season a little sluggishly, "we are wanting to win, but we are not hating to lose".

Those are words you want to hear from your best players. He is breeding a fresh desire and accountability in the locker room that has been missing the past several years.

What has been not talked about yet is Seguin’s speed. To me, this is his greatest attribute.

His ability to back off defenses and create space for his teammates is so integral to the Stars’ success. Occasionally, we saw his more form-fitting jersey still find a way to flap in the wind in such a Modano-esque fashion.

In 2012-13, could you even give the Stars a positive identity in just one word? Optimistically you could say young, but last season, Seguin redefined the Stars as a speedy team.

All throughout last season, Dallas surprised teams with their speed and unless you saw them in person, you truly didn't see how high-octane the offense has become.

Speed is now the Stars’ identity, rivaling even the Chicago Blackhawks’ speed, which is why I think Seguin is so important.

The ability to do what Seguin can do, but at the pace he does it at, is incredible. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who have two Stanley Cups under their belts, use their speed very similar to Seguin, so mirroring the Hawks as a franchise model seems like a pretty smart ideology.

Statistically speaking, Seguin ranks 19th in the league in iCorsi and 13th in the league in iFenwick – pretty impressive numbers (if you believe in these types of statistics).

Looking forward, Seguin still has room for improvement, which is what is just so darn encouraging about him and the Stars as a whole.

Seguin ranked 105th in the NHL in faceoff wins with 281. That needs to improve as the Stars’ top center. A key faceoff here or there could make all the difference not only for the Stars' success, but for his own, especially on power plays. It’s why Crosby has so much value because of the team’s trust in him to win a faceoff.

Lastly, Seguin’s performance on the big stage will need to ratchet up a bit.

I spoke to Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir after Game 6 against the Ducks last season and he mentioned that he was surprised at how easily Anaheim was able to take him away with defenseman Ben Lovejoy.

Against the Ducks, five Stars had more points than him with Seguin only tallying one goal and two assists.

If the Stars are going to compete in the playoffs and take the next step as a franchise, Seguin will have to be one of the Stars’ best players.

Those are the standards he has set for himself now. He can’t take a night or a series off.

As Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, "remember, with great power, comes great responsibility."