Clamor on Causeway: Marchand's Role Must Expand Due to Seguin Trade

USA TODAY Sports

In the wake of Tyler Seguin's trade to Dallas in early July, Bruins left wing Brad Marchand openly wondered if he was next in line for a ticket out of Boston.

Whether it was Kevin Paul Dupont, Joe Haggerty or any of the other writers with an ear in the Bruins' war room, it seemed pretty clear the club's brass discussed the possibility of moving Marchand. It's not a negative that the team is willing to move players, no matter their acclaim, if they believe it improves play on the ice.

A quick review of the league's best left wings doesn't necessarily include Marchand's name. Few, though, have produced at Marchand's level since he solidified himself in the Bruins' top six during the 2010-11 season. Additionally, his influence on games manifests itself beyond just the goals or assists he piles up.

Marchand's reputation around the league as the classic agitator has taken a backseat to his commitment to winning shifts. At times, the rat still comes out, of course, and it always will. Marchand can't succeed if he loses that edge. The difference, now, is that it doesn't hurt his production like it may have in the past.

Playing next to Patrice Bergeron for the last three seasons certainly helped Marchand develop into an integral part of the club's core. However, some still view the 25-year-old winger as a bit player in the operation. This, despite regularly shutting down the opposition's best players in all situations and consistently generating offense. Again, Bergeron's presence next to Marchand's plays a major role in the line's overall success. Still, it's unfair to dismiss their status as one of the league's best lines as solely Bergeron's doing.

Naturally, the occasional separation of the two at even strength leads to some marked drops in Marchand's production. Opponents pick up a few more shots against when No. 37 isn't on the ice. Offensively, however, the pair improves drastically when together. Additionally, Bergeron's offensive output increases with Marchand on the ice. Chemistry is one of the many overused intangibles of hockey executives, but these two genuinely define the term.

The subtraction of Seguin from that line will be felt, especially if Loui Eriksson, the likely replacement, doesn't offer the same support as the departed Seguin.

Watching the first installment of Behind the B this week, it was clear that Bruins' management used every excuse they could conjure to justify the Seguin trade. Like the kid or not, his contribution to the line can't be understated. Obviously, he wasn't perfect, and lo be it of Chiarelli, Cam Neely and everyone else in the war room to point that out constantly. Similarly, Marchand's off-ice behavior hasn't been sterling since his rise to prominence in Boston, but he's the type of the player this team just can't part with.

His 63 goals since the 2010-11 season are the most of any Bruins player. Beyond his contributions offensively and in terms of puck support and possession, Marchand is an integral piece of a very good Bruins' penalty kill.

Forced into action by the plummeting salary cap, it was essentially mandatory for the Bruins to move at least one of the young players they extended before the lockout last summer. Milan Lucic seemed like a strong candidate, but NHL teams aren't exactly known for moving proven 30 goal-scorers when they have Lucic's size. If it came down to Marchand or Seguin, not that it necessarily did, Marchand seems more easily departed with than Seguin. For all the flack he took for a one-goal playoff performance, replacing guys like Seguin is nearly impossible.

However, Chiarelli and head coach Claude Julien seem content with their current scheme that places a greater emphasis on a collection of roles than on particular talents. Seguin is, of course, the skillsy forward most NHL teams would break the bank for. The Bruins, in their mind, don't need that to win. They need, at least their moves suggest, specific parts that work into their machine. This ties back into the club's willingness to move Seguin and tacit commitment to Marchand.

Targeting Eriksson in the trade only cements that further. Marchand remains in Boston because he does a lot very well and fits into the mold management demands. During the summer, the Bruins made a very important decision in regard to the Seguin trade. Keeping Marchand, however, also thrust the young winger into a more prominent role. When Seguin didn't produce during the playoffs, which was really more about poor luck than anything else, Marchand didn't receive the same amount of grief despite a pretty poor offensive showing in the final two rounds.

With that trade, Marchand became a piece of the Bruins core. And the 2013-14 season will tell us just how ready he is for it. For management, the year is equally important. They traded their most talented forward and said they don't need players like him to win. It was a drastic move even though it didn't come as a massive surprise. The players that remain, Marchand included, have a lot of work to do to prove their bosses right.

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