Senators GM Bryan Murray swung for the fences today, acquiring center Kyle Turris from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for defenseman David Rundblad and a 2012 second round pick. There's a lot happening in this trade, so we're going to break this down FAQ-style. For those wondering, I was a Phoenix resident until late last year, so my opinion is going to be based on what I saw.
Who is Kyle Turris?
Turris was the third overall pick of the 2007 draft, selected only behind Patrick Kane, now of the Chicago Blackhawks, and James van Riemsdyk, now of the Philadelphia Flyers. NHL Central Scouting had Turris ranked as the top North American skater that year, above both Kane and van Riemsdyk. The Coyotes were ecstatic when they drafted him -- they envisioned him as their primary building block. At one time, they were rumored to be trying to move up to first overall to ensure they could get him. Then-head coach Wayne Gretzky was reportedly enamored with his speed and skill.
After being drafted, Turris returned to the Wisconsin Badgers and put up 35 points (11G, 24A) in 36 games. In 2008-09, he put up seven points (4G, 3A) in eight games for the San Antonio Rampage, Phoenix's AHL team, before playing 63 games for the Coyotes. He only managed 20 points (8G, 12A) in those games, playing mostly situationally as a rookie.
2009-10 saw him spend more time in the AHL developing, as the big club rode the outstanding play of Ilya Bryzgalov and highly structured system of new head coach Dave Tippet to a playoff berth.
This is where things get dodgy. Tippet was brought in to bring structure to a team in desperate need of it. He is an extremely astute coach who demands adherence to a defensive plan in the mold of Ken Hitchcock and Jacques Martin. Turris' freewheeling. up-ice play did not resonate well with that style.
Still, he was able to make the team last season, and put up just 25 points (11G, 14A) in 65 games, largely relegated to a fourth-line role by the structure-minded Tippet. The team made the playoffs that year, and drew the Detroit Red Wings as their opponents. The structure broke down and saw the Coyotes play a more offensive style to match their opponents in a great seven-game series that saw Detroit score 26 goals while the Coyotes scored 18. Turris played in four of those games and recorded a goal and two assists.
He then held out, got the contract he wanted, and got traded to Ottawa.
Bottom line: There is a ton of potential talent in him; he needs the right coach to bring it out.
(read on for so much more...)
Is he skilled?
He is a smooth, fast skater who will give Karlsson a run for his money.
I meant with the puck.
Judge for yourself:
Wow, he sounds like he poops out rainbows. Why would the Coyotes give up on him?
Turris is by no means a complete player. His defensive game needs a ton of work, and he is only 22 years old, so he also needs to add more muscle.
I don't want a guy that can't play defense.
Keep in mind that Dave Tippet doesn't simply require his players to "play defense." There's a very strict structure in place there. Turris did not adapt well to it. That doesn't mean he can't, or won't, play defense. His two-way play was actually considered a strength coming into the 2007 draft. He is also a physical player not scared to take or give a hit.
But he won't win a Selke, right?
No, he will not.
Nick Foligno has taken two knee-on-knee hits in two nights. This second one might keep him out for a while. That's my best guess.
Where will he fit?
Given the price paid and the current lineup, you have to believe he's going to slot right into the second line center position. Peter Regin has performed well playing wing before.
We don't need a second line center!
Mika Zibanejad is back in Sweden for the year and Stephane Da Costa is better served developing in Binghamton. Turris is already a more talented center than Regin. Keep in mind that Turris is also one of the fastest skaters on the team. Playing him with Colin Greening and Nick Foligno could pay immediate dividends, not only for the line's grit and speed, but also because it creates a first line of Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, and Daniel Alfredsson.
I hate this trade!
Keep in mind that evaluating a trade immediately is hard to do. It usually takes a few years to really get a sense of the outcome, as we have recently seen with Milan Michalek and Dany Heatley.
Think about the future.
You mean the future with depth down the middle of Spezza, Turris, and Zibanejad? If the prospect of Mika Zibanejad facing off against third line competition doesn't get you excited, I don't know what to tell you.
What about Regin and Da Costa?
The bottom line is that they have some really tough competition to beat out if they want to play for the Ottawa Senators in the future. If they can't, there's a good chance they could be traded themselves in exchange for a defenseman to fill the gaps when Kuba, Gonchar, and Phillips are gone.
Did we give up too much to get Turris?
Yes. But that's okay. Though he tore up the SEL last year, David Rundblad has struggled this year adapting to the North American game. That said, Rundblad was without a doubt Ottawa's biggest blue chip (although perhaps closely followed by Robin Lehner) and was a high price to give up.
However, between the emergence of Erik Karlsson and Jared Cowen, Rundblad was never going to get top pairing minutes. That made him expendable, because a second-line center is more valuable than a second-pairing defenseman.
In terms of draft value, Murray esentially traded a first round pick (16th overall) and second round pick for a top three pick. Many Sens fans were willing to trade more than this to move up in this past year's draft.
Can I still call him MechaKarlsson?
Yes. Yes, you can.
So, he's going to tear it up against Buffalo on Tuesday, right?
You never know. It will take him time to adjust to a new system and new teammates, but there's no doubt that he has the hockey skill to excel. How long that will take him is anybody's guess.
That was really long. Can you wrap it up?
Karlsson and Cowen have given the team the luxury of depth on defense, at least in the short term. Rather than building on that depth, Murray has chosen to take advantage of it and attempt to build true top-six talent.
In the end, what we see here is Murray trading potential for potential. Turris' ceiling projects as higher than Rundblad's, but both players have underperformed, and Turris has done so in a much longer audition. I've believed, quite firmly, that it was the system he was in that was holding him back. If that is true, then Ottawa may have stolen themselves an excellent player long term. If it's not, this will go down as yet another bad gamble by Murray.
Murray's moves have made it clear that he intends to load the team with offensive talent as the next phase of Senate Reform. The acquisition of Turris is just the latest move in that plan.