Unlike Tim Thomas, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time pumping the tires of a player who doesn’t play on the team that I support. Since first penning an article last March that featured a brief blurb about how Ottawa should consider acquiring a player like Kyle Turris, I’ve devoted more than a few posts over the course of the summer and fall that have followed his contract negotiations (or lack thereof) with the Phoenix Coyotes -- maintaining all my original position that it’d be of benefit to the Senators to kick the tires and perform their due diligence on acquiring the disgruntled player.
So naturally when Ottawa acquired Turris in a trade this afternoon, you’d think I would be pretty ecstatic to hear the news?
Absolutely! I imagine this is how Hasse Alfredsson will feel like when he finds out that his two sons have grown filthy dusters in his honor. Besides, when has a highly touted player who has worn number 91 never panned out? (Wait, don’t answer that!)
When I look back on this day, I'll never forget where I was when I got the text from Tim that told me that Pierre Lebrun broke the news on Twitter: ugly Christmas sweater shopping at the Value Village on Merivale Road.
After triumphantly fist pumping the air, it wasn’t the awkward glares that I got from passing strangers that brought me down. No, it took the steep price that Ottawa paid to get him to subdue my excitement. In retrospect, I blame my own naivety that Turris would come for cheap.
I realize now that the old adage that to get something, you have to give something up is true and Bryan Murray certainly gave something up by trading David Rundblad and a second round pick trade to the Coyotes. While not quite a ransom, it’s the kind of price that will generate some mass hysteria on the Hfboards or be questioned by prospect porn indulging fans who’ve become enamored with what Rundblad did in the Swedish Elite League last season and how much better he could become moving forward.
At its simplest level, the two involved teams traded promise for promise and we’re not going to know the winner for years to come. Nevertheless, it’d be boring not to analyze it now, so let me break down the players and factors involved. So let's get at it...
Size: 6'2" 185lbs
Contract: In the second year of a three-year contract that carries a cap hit of $1.5 million
I’m not going to lie, the first thing that came to my mind when Rundblad’s name was linked in the trade was that this is probably a sign that he balked at the idea of playing in the AHL. Whether this is true or not, we won't know until an involved party confirms it. Neverthless, the imminent returns of Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba would have forced the organization into making a roster move and based on his underwhelming play of late, Rundblad was the likely odd man out because of his two-way contract.
Often cited as Ottawa's top prospect, perhaps the best argument for not trading Rundblad for Turris was brought up by Scott (@Wham_City), "Irrelevant how (Rundblad) develops now. What do you think Rundlad's value was today? And what else could we have gotten elsewhere?"
It's a great point that is representative of the gamble that Bryan Murray truly took here. Maybe he could have gotten more for Rundblad. Looking back, the last good Swedish defensive prospect to be dealt was Tim Erixon. Although the circumstances were different (Erixon refused to sign in Calgary and could have re-entered the draft), Calgary received two second rounds picks and prospect Roman Horak in return from the Rangers. I'm not entirely sure of what could have been made available on the trade market. Perhaps a player like the recently demoted Magnus Paajarvi could have been fetched. Ultimately however, I still think that the only deal that could have been made involving Rundblad is a project for project deal like the one that Ottawa made.
For anyone who’s watched him play this season, Rundblad’s defensive deficiencies are as readily apparent as his fluid skating ability or ability to move the puck. Considering he’s entering a Phoenix Coyotes organization that perennially puts short-term results ahead of the development of its prospects, it’s going to be fascinating to keep track of how much patience head coach Dave Tippett will have for the blueliner.
Size: 6'1" 185 lbs
Contract: In the first year of a newly negotiated two-year deal that carries a cap hit of $1.4 million.
On the surface his numbers seem underwhelming. Upon closer examination however, proportionate to the amount of even-strength ice-time that the Phoenix Coyotes players received last season, Kyle Turris produced at the highest rate. When regarding this stat, it's important to keep a few things in mind:
1) Turris benefitted from his high proportion of O-zone starts.
2) He typically was matched up against the other team's third and fourth lines. In other words, the easiest competition.
Now that he has a fresh start and an opportunity to play regular top six minutes, the question becomes, 'will he be able to produce?'
A lot of time and energy is going to spent dissecting the reasons behind Turris' trade demands in Phoenix. After Dany Heatley's trade request and snubbing of the Senators' organization, it's going to be interesting to see how the fans respond to Turris. Will they embrace him? Or will they have tepid reservations?
So long as he produces, I couldn't care less.
1) The Filatov Factor
After Bryan Murray acquired Nikita Filatov for a third round pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the GM stated that Filatov would be given every opportunity to play and develop. When Filatov was loaned to CSKA this past week, it represented a Murray gamble that hasn't paid its dividends yet. Now with Turris is in tow, Ottawa's slowly morphed itself into an island of broken toys. With Bryan Murray rolling the dice again, he's putting his neck on the line and helps put an end to the cozy rebuild movement that afforded him some time and patience.
2) Why Trade a Puck Moving Defenceman?
Much has been made on Twitter about the importance of having puck-moving defencemen in the ‘New NHL’ and how having Rundblad and Karlsson on the same blueline could have been one of Ottawa’s strengths for years to come. While true, the organization is rolling gambling on Rundblad not developing into an all-around player. By trading him now, the Senators are essentially indicating that what David brings is replaceable. Others have mentioned that Ottawa does have more blueline depth in their current system; naming prospects like Mark Borowiecki or Patrick Wiercioch as potential replacements. While both of those prospects could eventually develop into decent NHLers, personally, I feel like this trade was made with the foresight of what’s available in this year’s draft class. Aside from a few skilled Russian forwards – Grigorenko, Yakupov and the Russian-American hybrid Alex Galchenyuk – the 2012 Entry Draft will be headlined by an inordinate amount of talented defencemen - one of whom will likely find himself in a Senators jersey on draft day.3) Emergence of Jared Cowen
For a website that prides itself on a pragmatic and reasonable approach, it's not often that we get caught up in the hyperbole. After last night's game however, fuck it. Jared Cowen's a beast who is destined go on and become the best defenceman to emerge from his 2009 NHL Entry Draft class.
That's to take nothing away from players like Victor Hedman, Olivier Ekman-Larson or Rundblad but in a few years, we'll be praising the hockey gods for the fortuitous luck that the injury to his right knee -- tears to his ACL, MCL and a slight one to his meniscus -- caused him to slide to Ottawa's ninth overall draft position.
Entering his first NHL season, many fans knew what to expect from the hulking 6'5" 225lb defenceman: a defensive acumen a willingness to use his size and reach to his advantage. Thanks to this defensive aptitude, I had heard rumbles that because of his defensive strengths by comparison, his offensive game was understated. However, through 33 games, he has posted four goals and ten points - putting him on pace for 9 goals and 24 points on the season.
In 28 minutes and 11 seconds of ice-time last night, he contributed in every facet of the game. His goal and three assists helped contribute to a team +4 rating. Interestingly, he also registered 4 minutes and 5 seconds of ice-time on the team's first power play unit.
When combined with Erik Karlsson's continued growth as a dynamic offensive player, it's reasonable to assume that Ottawa is comfortable with what they already have.
4) Deep Farm System
One point of contention that I've seen on Twitter can be paraphrased as, "I'm alright with a one-for-one trade of Turris for Rundblad but why throw in the second round pick?" It's a fair point and one that can be strengthened by alluding to the fact that this is supposed to be a rebuild. In fairness to Senators management, the conditional third round pick that the team acquired when Mike Fisher's Nashville advanced one round last season helps soften the blow somewhat.
More importantly, this isn't reminiscent of the days when the organization was flippantly trading first or second round picks for the likes of Chris Campoli, Andy Sutton and Matt Cullen. There's no desperation to remain competitive and assure itself of a bottom seeded playoff berth and first round shitkicking. Thanks to a few strong drafts and a well stocked farm system, the Senators have the depth in a prospect pool to absorb the loss of one second round pick - it was ranked as one of the top five systems in hockey in a preseason forecast by Hockey Prospectus. Besides, a second round pick is easy to recoup at the NHL trade deadline. Don't believe me? Two words for you: Chris Campoli.
5) Depth at Center
At fans it's easy to get caught up in the forecasts and projections of the talent within the farm system. While there is optimism that players like Mika Zibanejad or a Stephane Da Costa can eventually develop into important pieces that can help this team achieve success, it's entirely possible that neither of these players will ever develop into a productive first or second line center. By acquiring Turris, the hope is that this new opportunity will afford him a chance to not only be a productive player, but help protect against any stuttered development from the organization's other centers. Normal 0 false false false EN-CA X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4