As much I looked forward to last night’s ‘meaningful’ installment in the Battle of Ontario, the one game on Ottawa’s six game road trip that I am most interested in is Kyle Turris’ return to the desert on January 24th.
Despite having published a number of posts that conveyed the point that as a young player who had produced some promising offensive results proportionate to his limited role1, Turris was exactly the kind of underappreciated player that the rebuilding organization should be targeting in a trade, I’d still lying if I said that I could have foreseen the kind of success that he’s had thus far.
In the fifteen games that the center has played with the Senators, the team is 11-2-2 and he’s developed some nice chemistry with Daniel Alfredsson tallying 3 goals, 11 points and an equally impressive +11 rating. Based off of his 0.733 point per game production since joining Ottawa, if you take that number and multiply that over the course of a full season, Turris would be in line for a 60 point season. That’s not too shabby for a 22 year old center whose game and physical maturity still have room to grow.
Speaking of maturity, he’s quick not to take any credit for the team’s recent string of success, telling NHL.com:
"The team is just a great young team. The coaching staff is great. I'm lucky enough to play with one of the best in the game in Alfie and on my other wing I have Condra. They're great all-around players. We've got some chemistry. I just try to get them the puck."
Although that 60-point pace is purely projection, it’s worth noting that the Senators organization has never had two centers who have posted more than 60 or more points within the same season. The closest the team came to accomplishing this feat was the 2000-2001 campaign in which Alexei Yashin totaled 88 points while Radek Bonk put up 59.
Here’s a breakdown of the five most productive seasons by two Senators centers:
- 2000/01 – 147 points – Yashin (88) and Bonk (59)
- 2007/08 – 145 points – Spezza (92) and Vermette (53)
- 2005/06 – 138 points – Spezza (90) and Smolinski (48)
- 2006/07 – 135 points – Spezza (87) and Fisher (48)
- 1998/99 – 130 points – Yashin (94) and Prospal (36)
With way the offensive production and conscientious effort to play responsibly away from the puck within the defensive zone, it’s hard to believe that the Phoenix Coyotes wouldn’t afford Turris more opportunity and ice-time before their relationship soured. Instead, the organization and head coach Dave Tippett preferred to emphasize short-term results ahead of the continued development of their youngest players.
And to this point, where has it gotten the Coyotes?
Under Dave Tippett, the third oldest organization2 has yet to win a playoff series and it will be fortunate just to get there this year as they currently reside one point out of 12th place in the Western Conference.
"I expect to get booed," Turris said of his first game back Jobing.com Arena since the December trade that changed everything for him. "They've got loyal fans there. It's going to be a real fun game. I'm looking forward to it."
Turris probably will get booed but maybe it’s time that the Coyotes’ fan base directs a little scorn management’s way.
1 Last season in Phoenix, Turris led the Coyotes in even strength points per 60 minutes of ice-time. In other words, proportionate to the amount of even strength time that he received, he produced more than anyone else on that team. Interestingly, Mikkel Boedker finished second. What are the chances that he’s available in a trade?
2 According to NHLNumbers.com, the Coyotes are the third oldest team in the NHL at 28.621 years of age. Only Detroit (29.603) and Tampa Bay (28.754) are older.
Hockey Prospectus Ranks the Top 50 Prospects
In an article for HockeyProspectus.com, Corey Pronman has revealed part one of his two part list that ranks the NHL’s top 50 prospects.
Of note, David Rundblad slots in at number eleven and Ottawa’s only prospect on the list, Mika Zibanejad, comes in at sixteen.
11. David Rundblad, Defense, Phoenix Coyotes (Preseason Ranking: 17)
Rundblad has had a rough start to his first season, as his physical and defensive issues resulted in protection by his coach's usage. His potential is enormous, with elite puck-moving skills and great individual ability. His projection has a fair amount of risk attached to it, but the payoff could be great for Phoenix.
16. Mika Zibanejad, Left Wing, Ottawa Senators (Preseason Ranking: 21)
Zibanejad is one of the best all-around prospects out there who has shows significant physical development this year. His ice time is only a few minutes higher per game this year in the SEL than it was in the NHL, which is a bit of a concern for Ottawa who were hoping he'd get great offensive opportunities; he is sixth amongst his team's forwards in average ice time.
New ISS Rankings
While I’m on the topic of prospects, it’s worth mentioning that the International Scouting Service has released its Top 30 Rankings for the month of January.