Talk about a polarizing trade huh? I didn’t expect to see this particular newsflash when I arrived back from an afternoon of Christmas shopping (#MallsSuck). So after enduring some initial emotional responses (most popular: WTF???), here’s a little more measured reaction…
To be honest, it’s still kind of “What the fuck?” but that’s more around the fascination with Kyle Turris than the package the Sens had to give up. I didn’t really get how Phoenix could be demanding the type of return in exchange for Turris that they ended up receiving but clearly this was the asking price. The Sens definitely were not negotiating against themselves as there were reportedly other teams consistently in the mix for acquiring Turris’ services (which is an awesome rhyming couplet that the Ottawa Sun headline writers will no doubt co-opt in the very near future). Phoenix was not backing down from their demands for a 1st rounder and a roster player and I guess the Sens were sort of able to appease them by giving them instead a 2nd rounder and a roster player who used to be a 1st rounder. I think the Coyotes came out pretty well on their end on this all things considered.
So first up, let’s talk about losing David Rundblad. We’ll put aside the 2nd rounder now mostly because it’s an abstract asset and additionally something the Sens could replace fairly easily if they wanted to by dealing one of their veterans (I’ll wait while you go and re-affirm on TSN.ca that Filip Kuba still has an expiring contract, not a problem). The big piece here is Rundblad. And your rage about this trade is most likely in direct correlation to how much you were banking on him being a future building block on the Sens defensive line. Frankly, I’m a little split on the guy. He’s still too young and early into his NHL career to be able to make any kind of pronouncement on but my impression so far is of a offensive, risk taking defenseman who isn’t producing any offense. That may be a little harsh considering this early stage but he possesses a lot of the same tendencies that Erik Karlsson does but he lacks the quick stick and speed that Karlsson has to correct a lot of the mistakes he makes.
Rundblad looks like he has amazing hands and a good shot so he should be able to be a strong offensive contributor at the NHL level someday but I don’t think he’s going to be nearly as effective as Karlsson is when it comes to producing points and unless he seriously alters his style, he’s going to be a defensive liability on many nights. If Karlsson is a mainstay on your top pairing, then you can’t realistically pair him with a similar risk taker like Rundblad to be out against the other team’s best players every night. You’ve got a much more logical candidate to be the ying to Karlsson’s yang in Jared Cowen. The odds are pretty decent that this will be the longterm 1st pairing for the Sens as these two very different players complement each other too well to not pair them together. There’s also the fact that despite their differences, both Karlsson and Cowen are classic minute-eaters who can play on both sides of the special teams ledger. So if you assume that, then Rundblad would line up as no higher than a 3 or 4 on your team and really, it’s fairly easy to find 3rd or 4th defensemen in this league. You don’t necessarily have to find these players in your prospect pool either (as some fans are desperately wringing their hands over at the moment). In fact, it’s more likely a secondary offensive defenseman or solid veteran is acquired through free agency or trade just the same way players like Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba were. You don’t have to draft your entire team, kids. Hell, the team could go crazy with all of its free cap space this summer and make a serious move for a free agent like Ryan Suter. Were that to happen, I don’t think you’d hear many fans still lamenting the loss of Rundblad. Aren’t what-if’s fun?
So all in all, I’m comfortable with sacrificing Rundblad and a 2nd in exchange for the right return. And in terms of advocating for the Sens filling their gaping hole at 2nd line centre, I’ve been consistent for some time about this being a need that they should have addressed long ago. And filling that hole with a player who is young and can grow with the core of the team, even better right?
But ummm, Kyle Turris? That’s a headscratcher because all signs point to him being a suspect top end player. His Coyotes numbers are very pedestrian and his icetime and role there was not consistent with what a 2nd line centre would be. I can’t say that I’ve really seen him play much at all in Phoenix (as would be the case with most Sens fans I’d imagine) so stats are really the only thing to go by at this point (and they aren’t pretty).
The hope here seems to be that it was just an awful situation where he could not progress as a young player and that the vaunted “change of scenery” move would be all that was necessary to get him on the right track again. I don’t worry about any kind of real attitude issues resulting from his holdout. The holdout was not about money, it was about him not wanting to play in Phoenix under any circumstance. Without knowing exactly what that situation was and exactly how he was being treated, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt on his reasons for doing what he did. There have been no other reports about him being a malcontent or bad teammate, just a guy who clearly wanted a trade and wasn’t getting one.
My main concern is with what he can do on the ice and I don’t think anyone can say with any kind of certainty what to expect here in that respect. That to me, is an awful lot of uncertainty to acquire in exchange for what the Sens gave up. As a fan, I’d be much happier to take this risk in exchange for say, the 3rd rounder they gave up for Filatov. But of course, that’s not realistic because the big difference in those two situations is that Columbus could barely give Filatov away when they offered him around the league whereas Turris was being pursued by multiple teams. That’s going to affect the price.
Despite my trepidation, there are a few things that this risky acquisition has going for it.
1) As mentioned, there were multiple suitors meaning that multiple scouts were advising their GM’s that this guy was worth going after, even at an elevated price and accepting the fact that he was holding his team hostage. The Sens were not necessarily going out on a limb in thinking this guy was worth pursuing.
2) The Coyotes didn’t want to trade Turris. In normal circumstances, a struggling player asks to be dealt and won’t come to terms on a contract because he’s not interested in playing for your organization anymore and you kind of take the hint and get on with trying to deal him. Up until very recently, the Coyotes were adamant that Turris was going to have to sign with them and that a trade was not going to be an option. Sure, there was probably some posturing going on but they clearly did want to try and keep him in the fold and did not want to give up on him just yet.
3) I wouldn’t call it a last chance at this point, but Turris has clearly got this contract (which runs through this year and next) to make his mark or he may find himself out of the league. For many players (much like ones in a contract year) this can be a strong motivator to get their act together. He got out of Phoenix and back into Canada so he has no excuses anymore. We’ll see what he does with it.
4) Paul Maclean was presumably called upon to offer his opinion on Turris as he would have had ample opportunity to watch him while in the Western Conference with the Red Wings and more importantly, in last spring’s playoff matchup with the Coyotes. Maclean seems to be on board and I trust his opinion so there’s that…
In his comments immediately after the trade was completed, Turris said how excited he was to come play in Canada and in this market. He grew up in this country and played on the World Junior team so I’m assuming he understands the fishbowl that exists here but if I were him, I’d be careful what I wished for. He’s going to be under the microscope in this city and the amount of rope he’s earned with this fanbase given what the team gave up for him is next to nothing. My suggestion to him is to find a way to score on Tuesday night, that’s going to help things out immensely. Otherwise, it may get very ugly, very quickly.
To be revisited…