So, it's a couple of days later, and I've spent that time reading everything possible about Saturday's trade. When i first heard about the trade, I think, like most of you, I was in shock. How could they trade Rundblad? I've spent the better part of a year thinking of this kid as the hope for the future, and now he's gone. I was immediately angry, and upset with the deal, but after some time to think, I've grown to accept, and possibly even like the move, and here's why.
On the Loss of Rundblad
I'm sure we can all agree this stung. Hockeysfuture's prospect of the year, third in SEL scoring as a defenceman, a natural scorer from the backend. I've no doubt that Rundblad is going to be something good in the NHL. I am a little wary of people calling him a "sure thing" just because having lived through the Daigle Debacle, I know there's no such thing. That said, the kid has a ton of upside, and I'd certainly be happy thinking of him as a "very, very likely thing."
On the Acquisition of Kyle Turris
Okay, on to the good part. A lot of people are referring to this trade as another Filatov. I don't think this is necessarily fair. I think we've all heard by now that relative to his ice time, Turris was the leading scorer in Phoenix. Turris was playing for a coach that required strict adherance to a defensive system, which is not one that encourages the kind of freewheeling offence that Turris should be capable of. Am I the only one thinking that this sounds very familiar?
I seem to recall a young Jason Spezza having an incredibly difficult time establishing himself under Jacques Martin. Martin had to be bullied by upper management, as I recall, to put Spezza into the game in the playoffs. Spezza got to play the last 3 games of the playoffs in 2002-2003, out of 3 rounds the Senators made it. Spezza managed to play most games in the 2003-2004 season, and had 55 points to show for it. Better than Turris last year, certainly (the equivalent age for Turris), but still not establishing himself as the top line centre we wanted him to be. And still spent most of his time in Jacques Martin's doghouse, IIRC. Spezza waited out the system, and was rewarded with a much bigger role in a Brian Murray Ottawa team. Turris didn't wait out Phoenix's coach, and took matters into his own hands with this trade demand. Not exactly a strong character move, but when looked at as a young man wanting to establish himself as a scorer, and being given fourth line minutes without being promoted in spite of leading his team in scoring relative to icetime, you can at least see where he's coming from.
Now, Turris is not Jason Spezza, and may never be. That said, Kyle Turris is the first player Ottawa has had in its system that has enough upside that he may, one day, be capable of replacing Spezza. Not a likely occurance, granted, but for the first time, it is possible. Regin and Zibby will max out as second line centres. Fisher, though wonderful (still miss him) was never going to be a first line centre. We have not had a possible top line centre prospect since we drafted Spezza. It's not too late for Turris to go in that direction. Anyone who is advocating trading Spezza (Note: I am not one of you) should love this acquisition, because for the first time, it is actually possible, if not particularly probable.
Many are saying Rundblad and a second was too much. Rundblad for Turris straight up would have been stomachable. A second round pick coming our way would have been even better. I, frankly, agree. Rundblad has the potential to be as good as Turris has the potential to be. They seem, at the least, even. The fact of it is, though, sometimes you do have to overpay. Turris was the centre of a bidding war. Phoenix wanted Zibanejad, and we said no. They wanted a first round pick, and we said no. Clearly, we had our limits. That said, there was a bidding war, and to get your man, sometimes you have to overpay to get your man.
Ottawa has a strong prospect system. Hockeysfuture ranks it the second overall system in the league. I've noticed that Brian Murray doesn't use the word prospect as much as he uses the word asset. The Ottawa Senators have an abundance of assets. When there is a bidding war over someone you really want, and you have an abundance of assets, you draw on them. Murray hasn't emptied the farm by any means. We overpaid, but we haven't broken the bank. Thanks to our abundance of assets, we could afford to overpay more than 9 other teams bidding for Turris could. If Turris was the man we wanted, then even though we overpaid, the moral is we got him, and we haven't completely broken the bank.
On Abandoning the Rebuild
This, I don't think, is a fair argument. Turris is a mere one year older than Rundblad, and, as I've stated previously, we still have a rich prospect pool without him and without the second round pick. This is not a case of John Muckler emptying the farm for an old UFA for one year's cup run. This is about adding a different piece to the puzzle than any of our other prospects represent. Turris is under contract for 2 years, and an RFA after that. In all likelihood, he will be a Senator for at LEAST 5 years, possibly more like 10. This is not a short term move. It helps in the short term, certainly, but it also helps long term.
On The Future of Our Defence
Obviously, it's not as strong as it once was. That said, we were dealing from a place of organizational strength. Cowan and Karlsson are going to be a helluva top pairing for years to come. Brian Lee is now, very likely, a part of our long term plans. Those who have trouble forgiving his draft position will have to get over it. He is a good young defenceman, and we're going to need him now. He and Phillips make a decent 2nd pairing, or a damn good 3rd pairing. Right now, we have Kuba and Gonchar as a pretty good 2nd pairing, but they won't be here long term. Can Boro, Weircioch or Gryba make the jump in the next few seasons? I don't know. This is obviously going to be the immediate focus of our rebuild now. We are now incredibly strong down the middle, with some very good prospects coming up on the wing. It wouldn't surprise me if at the deadline we trade Kuba not for a pick, as was the focus last deadline, but for a defensive prospect to add to the system. Same deal if Gonchar goes this year. And you can bet that on draft day, we'll be going after defencement with the same gusto that we went after top 6 talent last draft.
We gave up a lot. A helluvalot. But let's look at where we stand now. Our defence took a hit, but we still have some very strong core elements in Karlsson and Cowan. Championship level teams tend to be deep at centre, and we'll be able to claim that. Next year we are going to have Spezza, Turris, Zibanejad, Smith, Foligno, DaCosta and Regin. Those last two may now be expendable in the search for some defensive prospects now, while still having an incredibly strong core of centres. Our young prospects on the wing are going to be ready in a few years. It won't be too many yearsbefore our lines look something like:
Not too shabby look at the future, if you ask me.