Ottawa GM Bryan Murray decided to trade the 16th pick in this year's draft for last year's 17th pick, defenseman David Rundblad.
Murray explained the decision was based on two factors: The team's strong scouting connection to him -- team scout Anders Forsberg will be his coach next year, and the fact that the player they wanted (a forward) was not available. He indicated that the team was extremely confident that Rundblad will develop into a strong all-around player. Murray also stated that Rundblad will be spending the next year in the Swedish Elite League.
Rundblad is 6'2" and 189 pounds.
His stats with that team, Skelleftea HC, seem to belie the scouting reports on him:
The good news is that he projects as a defenseman who can both pass and play the body. Scouting reports from last year indicate that his ceiling is as a top-pairing defenseman. He has been compared to Washington's Mike Green. Keep in mind that the SEL is one of the top leagues in the world and gave us Erik Karlsson.
Our friends at St. Louis Gametime had this interview with him after last year's draft.
Director of Player Personnel Pierre Dorion on Rundblad:
"We felt that at this point in the draft, whoever we were going to take at 16, that David Rundblad would be a better asset for us in the future. We know that this defenseman, in the next two years, will be a top 4 defenseman."
Scout (and coach) Anders Forsberg describes Rundblad:
"Big shot. Powerplay guy. Reminds a lot of Erik Karlsson, but bigger. It's a real good pick, a real good trade. Lot of skills. Shocked when [the trade] came up for Rundblad, because he has a real good future in the NHL. I don't know why they'd make the decision to trade him. I know him so well, known him for five years, and know almost everything about him. He needs to be stronger. Big body, but needs to fill out."
Bryan Murray on the decision:
"He's a signed player. He's 6'2". He's skilled. Hockey-sense wise, very smart. There was a forward we were looking at, but when he disappeared we felt this was an opportunity to get a high-end defenseman. He's an offensive, real smart player. Puck mover, playmaker. One of the people that fit today's game. We think that David goes back, plays one more year in Sweden, then he can step into the NHL the next year. We think we got a year ahead by doing this. We got a top player who we think in this year's draft he'd be in the top ten. That's our opinion, with our scouts."
Ottawa will not be trading back into the first round.
More of Murray discussing the decision:
Bottom line: GM Bryan Murray clearly felt that Rundblad was a better player than any remaining talent. Ottawa's defensive prospect depth is now outstanding.