- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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With the Boston Bruins facing the start of the season without top center Marc Savard, coach Claude Julien said Monday he likes the idea of rookie Tyler Seguin potentially filling a slot in the middle.
Seguin, the No. 2 overall pick in this spring's entry draft, has looked very comfortable on the wing with center Patrice Bergeron and winger Mark Recchi through his first two exhibition games, notching a goal and an assist. But with Savard out with post-concussion syndrome and likely starting the season on long-term injury reserve, meaning he'll miss at least 10 games, Seguin may have to switch back to center, where he played his last two seasons of junior hockey.
"We've got a couple of different options here," Julien said on a conference call Monday. "I think one of the things we want to see is that maybe Tyler Seguin needs to be looked at as a center as well. We can't put him out of the equation. He's a natural center-man and was drafted as that. He's one of the guys we can look at."
Savard's absence figures to push David Krejci and Bergeron up to the top two center slots on the depth chart. Offseason acquisition Gregory Campbell is expected to center the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton.
In talking about who might center the third line, Julien said he would prefer to return Seguin to his natural position, as well as putting Blake Wheeler back in the middle, where he played at the University of Minnesota.
"To be honest with you, I'd still like to see Tyler Seguin [at center] again, seeing now that he's got a few games under his belt," Julien said. "He handles it in the middle. I'd still like to see Blake Wheeler play center as well at some point and see if he can recapture his comfort zone that he had when he played that position when he was in school."
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Sunday that he and his staff have been analyzing the need for a third-line center and mentioned Seguin, Wheeler, 2010 second-round pick Ryan Spooner and 2007 first-round pick Zach Hamill.
"Savvy's absence has been our biggest point of discussion amongst our group here," Chiarelli said. "We're going to have a look at [Wheeler] in that spot; we're going to have a look at Zach in that spot. There's some other different combinations, and we may see Tyler go back to that spot. There's a hole there right now and even Spooner, he's young, in his first pro camp, and each day and each game he's getting better and he's a smart player so he might be able to fill in."
Seguin, Wheeler, Hamill and 2008 first-round pick Joe Colborne should get turns at center in one or both of Boston's final two preseason games Tuesday and Wednesday.
And as Julien pointed out, if Seguin or Wheeler fills the middle on the third line, a wing spot will open up.
"If we put one guy [at center], that means we may need another winger," Julien said. "It really leaves the battle wide open."
One candidate to fill a wing slot could be Jordan Caron, the team's first-round pick in 2009. Caron scored a goal in one of the rookie games with the Islanders and has been perhaps the best rookie in camp, receiving plenty of praise from Julien, Chiarelli and his teammates.
"Jordan Caron is a guy that is big and strong and certainly can be productive," Julien said of the 6-foot-2, 202-pound, 19-year-old. "We had [Bergeron] with him earlier on in camp and he's been one of our better guys."
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.
The Bruins may give rookie Tyler Seguin a shot at being their third-line center.