NEWARK, N.J. — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli Sunday confirmed he's had discussions with teams about trading Tyler Seguin.
He hopes Seguin got the message.
Chiarelli said he received a "deluge" of calls when news about talks involving Seguin leaked out. Those stopped once Nathan Horton decided to enter free agency and Chiarelli's desire to move him waned as well.
"If I were to trade Tyler, it would be for an elite young prospect or player," Chiarelli said during Sunday's NHL draft. "He's an elite young player who had an average year. He's 21 and I expect big things from him. I wasn't satisfied with his year and neither was he. We'll move on, but he's a hell of a player and will be a hell of a player."
Asked what Seguin had to do to take the next step, Chiarelli spoke to Seguin's maturity.
"He's got to commit his mind and focus to the one task at hand. He's got to become more of a professional," Chiarelli said. "I can say that about a lot of 21-year-olds. I know he got criticized a lot for playing on the periphery, and he did. He did. But he's got to commit to being a professional and his focus on the game. We don't expect him to crash and bang, just focus on his game."
Did Chiarelli think this would catch Seguin's attention? "I hope it does. If it doesn't, I'd be more concerned," Chiarelli said. "Listen, we gave Tyler a big contract because he had good performance and I expect that going forward."
Earlier in the day, Chiarelli expressed surprise that Horton had decided to test free agency, and also said that he held talks with Vincent Lecavalier's camp about bringing the soon-to-be free agent to Boston.
There was a lot of anticipation Sunday that the Bruins would make a big deal, but as the draft reached its conclusion, they hadn't pulled the trigger on anything. The Horton decision could have slowed any momentum Chiarelli may have had toward any potential deal.
"Yeah. I was surprised," Chiarelli said of Horton's choice to hit the open market. "I respect someone's decision to go to free agency. I think it was a real tough decision for him and his family. I can never say never. Maybe he'll come back and want to revisit it. But the message I got is that he's going to test free agency and wants a new beginning."
The size-and-skill package that Horton possesses will be hard to replace. When he was going with David Krejci and Milan Lucic at the same time, they comprised a line that was hard to stop.
"It will be tough. There's obviously chemistry there," Chiarelli said. "There are different ways to look at building your line. There's building in pairs. Maybe that's something to look at rather than getting an exact replacement for Horty. To attempt to try and recreate the chemistry, that will be hard. You'd like to have a shooter on that line."
And speaking of shooters, Chiarelli confirmed that he met with the Lecavalier camp Saturday. Lecavalier is being bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning and will become an unrestricted free agent Friday. The Bruins are just one of many teams that have inquired about him.
"When what happened with Nathan, it became a little more ripe," Chiarelli said. "We had a good meeting."
Chiarelli is hoping that his team's solid core can sway Lecavalier — or someone of that ilk — to play with a winner.
"I think we've got such a strong core that I think there will be players who want to come play for us," Chiarelli said. "If we don't decide to proceed on Vinny or he decides to go, that's not a reflection on him not wanting to win. We've got a good, strong core. We're going to try and keep this core. There'll be players. There'll be players that want to win, shooters we can fill in on that line."
With so many teams in on Lecavalier — at least nine, counting the Bruins — the price is bound to be steep. That's a fact of life in free agency, said Chiarelli.
It could be that he waits for the secondary market to open up to see what bargains are available.
"You're going to go into free agency, you're going to overpay. You have to accept that," Chiarelli said. "That's the risk and the reward the player takes. It's the risk and reward the team takes. The reward is that you're going to get a player that can help you. The risk is that you're going to overspend in term and value. I think there's going to be a lot of players. We have to be resourceful.
"Our first priority is to make sure we have our core players locked up. Then we'll have to fill in the holes a little bit. It doesn't mean you can't do that at the same time. I don't know if I'll go fully in."