Silver Nuggets: David Rundblad's rookie season has been as good as Erik Karlsson's

David Rundblad's rookie season in the first 24 games has been just as good as Erik Karlsson's.

Erik Karlsson is the best offensive defenceman in the NHL right now. He has four more points than the next closest defenceman. He's also second in the NHL among all skaters in assists. Karlsson averages 25:29 of ice time per game and he has played over 20 minutes for 32 straight games, the only exception being the season opener in Detroit where he played 19:05. He has played over 25 minutes in 20 of the club's 33 games, or 61% of the games. Erik Karlsson is undoubtedly the best defenceman on the Ottawa Senators.

But how was Erik Karlsson's rookie season in 2009-2010? He had 26 points in 60 games but in his first 24 games, he had 1 goal, 5 assists and a -12 plus-minus rating. Looking at advanced statistics, Karlsson had +7.6 relative corsi. Looking purely at shots, the Senators fired 29.91 shots per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 on the opposition net and allowed 25.19 shots with Karlsson on the ice. The average relative corsi of Karlsson's opponents was -0.179. These are Karlsson's numbers at the end of the season, they were likely much worse after 24 games.

David Rundblad on the other hand has 1 goal, 3 assists and a -11 plus-minus rating. He is third on the Senators with a +9.1 corsi rating (behind only Karlsson and Daniel Alfredsson) and the Senators have 34.5 shots on net with Rundblad on the ice and allowed 28.31. Rundblad has been particularly unlucky so far with the Senators goaltenders having only an .858 5-on-5 save percentage and shooting only 5.25% themselves with Rundblad on the ice. Part of it of course is that Rundblad seems to make glaring mistakes, but part of it has just been Rundblad being unlucky. The mistakes will be cleaned up with experience and his luck will turn around as well. The relative corsi of Rundblad's opponents has been -0.135 (slightly tougher competition than Jared Cowen by the way for the whole season). Rundblad has single handedly created chances for Ottawa that eventually fizzled out because of his lack of experience in decision making. This will not always be the case.

Rundblad has every chance to be a first pairing defenceman. It is incredibly short sighted to pigeon hole him into a second pairing role on Ottawa. Jared Cowen has looked good for two weeks on the top pairing, but there is still a long way to go. Rundblad could end up being better offensively than Erik Karlsson. Even without that, Rundblad could easily have ended up playing 20 minutes a night on the second pairing in Ottawa. There are things David Rundblad could do with the puck that Erik Karlsson will never be able to. He is also bigger than Karlsson, albeit without the speed of Karlsson. Both players have excellent vision and a pairing between the two close friends would not have been inconceivable in the future.

Tonight's game

  • Game preview. (Ottawa Sun, Senators Extra)
  • An optimistic panel tonight with six out of the eight predicting a win. Peter has the Senators winning 5-1. (Senators Extra)
  • The lines remain unchanged from yesterday. 1) Greening-Spezza-Alfredsson, 2) Foligno-Turris-Condra, 3) Smith-Regin-Neil, 4) Daugavins-Konopka-Winchester. (Sylvain St-Laurent)
  • The defensive pairings have changed from yesterday with Filip Kuba returning with Erik Karlsson. 1) Kuba-Karlsson, 2) Cowen-Gonchar, 3) Phillips-Carkner. (Sylvain St-Laurent)
General Sens News
  • One thing you can't deny about the trade, the Senators certainly have a lot of options for a second line centre in the future. You would have to think one of them is bound to work out. (Ottawa Sun)
  • Kyle Turris was understandably very excited to be in Ottawa, after escaping a Phoenix system where he didn't fit in. Again, despite my reservations about the trade, I think Turris will work out here. Paul MacLean plays an offensive system which should suit Turris. (Ottawa Sun)
  • Turris wouldn't criticise Phoenix despite being given the chance. He is a talented player, and according to Pierre McGuire, Turris will remind fans of Steve Yzerman. (Senators Extra)
  • Nick Foligno will get to play against his brother, Marcus, tonight. (Ottawa Citizen)
  • Erik Karlsson was inseparable at times with his good friend David Rundblad. He admits he was shocked to hear about the trade and says it is no fun to lose a friend on the team. Karlsson feels Rundblad will be a star one day. (Ottawa Citizen)
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