Over the past 12 months, I'm not sure any Ottawa Senators prospect has received as much hype as David Rundblad. Rundblad wasn't a top-ten pick like Jared Cowen or Mika Zibanejad, but his stellar play in Sweden has had Senators fans salivating for a while. Tonight, Senators fans will finally get to see the man known in Sweden as "Magic Number Seven" as he laces up for his first regular season NHL game.
Rundblad was a 17th overall pick of the St. Louis Blues in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The next year, the Senators traded their 16th overall pick to the Blues to acquire him. Rundblad was coming off of a mediocre World Junior Hockey Championship and a 13 point season in the SEL, so Senators fans were a bit perplexed with the move, particularly with the Senators already having a number of defensive prospects in the system.
All questions were answered when Rundblad put up 50 points in 55 games, good for third amongst all SEL players. It was the second highest point total by a defenseman in league history. He was awarded the Salming Trophy as the league's best defenseman. Yes, he did this as a 20-year old defenseman. You can see why Senators fans started to get excited.
Although Rundblad's offensive skills cannot be denied, his defensive game does raise concern. He struggled in the preseason by making too many moves in dangerous areas, or not being in the proper position in his own zone. For this reason, Paul MacLean sat Rundblad in the press box during the Senators' first two games of the season, so he could watch the speed and style of the NHL to prepare.
As long as he wasn't taking any pointers from the Senators' blueline during those games, he should be just fine tonight.