Onward & Upwards, For Both Turris & The Sens.
The Sens have made a deal for a disgruntled high pick, who has soured on his team, failed to live up to expectations, and believes he is a fresh start away from proving to be the star player he is.
Then, Filatov went back to Russia, again, leaving in his wake more good words, and few results.
That is the back-drop behind the deal for Turris, and honestly, it couldn’t be worse.
Fans still recovering from the sting of unrealized potential in Filatov, watch their GM trade a prominent prospect, one highly touted by the team they support, for another player some consider to be Filatov redux.
Perception is Reality
No wonder the blow back. In many ways, rightly or wrongly, the situation has left many with the perception that Murray just traded Rundblad, and a 2nd, for Filatov. It may not be fair (and without so much as playing a single game in a Sens sweater, it is unfair), but it is the reality.
I’ve certainly struggled with this perception, and it has shown in my strong early dislike for this deal.
But, with some time, and conversation, I’m coming around to the deal. I still don’t think it was a win on paper, but it isn’t the immediate fail I had first proclaimed.
In order to alter my view on this deal I’ve had to look at it from a broader perspective than asset for asset, Turris for Rundblad and the second.
I’ve had to look at it from the perspective of how it impacts the teams current roster, how it fits into the teams prospect pool, and how it strategically functions within the salary cap structure of the NHL.
The Current Roster
This team, even with the recent solid play of Foligno at centre, does need a second line centre, with emergency top line ability. Turris, IF he meets the generally held expectation of his abilities, is this player, this season. Maybe not in his next ten games, his having missed training camp, and now playing with new line-mates, but certainly by the All Star break.
Contrast this to Rundblad. I’ve been very vocal in my belief that he has to be sent down to the AHL before being considered a reliable NHL’er, let alone the impact player he is projected to become. Some speculate he may be un-willing to accept this assignment…but absolutely nothing has been produced to confirm this, beyond pointing to his early season ramblings about potentially returning to the SEL, should he not crack the NHL roster. What is certain is that he had no place on this team now, and possibly even in the future, as his skill set is already represented by Karlsson, thus making him expendable.
But that doesn’t mean Turris represents a fair return for Rundblad, and this is one of the problems when analysing a trade. Is it about asset for asset, impact for impact, or a combination of the two?
I know this, if I were starving to death, I’d gladly wayyyy over-pay for a meal, and not regret it. Would that be a bad deal, or a good deal? Value wise, no, big picture, yes. A hockey trade is no different.
Turris for Rundblad and a second, for impact on the ice now, is a win.
The Prospect Pool
Top talent, in any position, is good to have, but too much in one area soon becomes a matter of diminishing returns. If an excess in one area is combined with too little in another, it is both a diminished return, and wasted potential.
Right now, with Karlsson, Cowen and Lee, the Sens are well set for young talent on the blueline. Rundblad represented the “diminishing returns”. Even if he was EK-2, right now, there’s still only so much ice time to divvy up for a full-out offensive defenceman role. Sure, if EK went down to injury, having a back-up in Rundblad (if already at NHL ability) would be awesome, but what to do in the interim? That was the problem with keeping Rundblad…where would he play.
Contrast this excess at defence to the centre-ice position. Right now the Sens are lacking a 2LC, and even if Rundblad were at 100% NHL ability, we’d still be missing a 2LC. Having an extra offensive defenceman would do little to mitigate this strategic deficit. Having Turris does, now, and into the future, as he is just 22 years old, and still RFA eligible.
Some will point to ZBad and Silfverberg…but neither of those are ready to assume a 2LC role now, and may well not be ready to do so next year, or even the year after that. Add to this the fact ZBad can effectively play a top 6 role on the wing, and the book still being way out on Silfverberg being an offensive centre, and the skill set of 2LC is sorely lacking now, and into the future.
So, in terms of improving the strategic mix of the prospect pool, the Turris trade, for Rundblad and a second, is a win.
The Salary Cap
Last is the strategic implications of having to account for these players, in a salary cap league. If having an over abundance of talent in one position is a problem when meting out ice time, it is a lethal flaw when dolling out salary, particularly when you are talking about top-tier talent, as is the case with Rundblad, Cowen and Karlsson. These three, if all come to meet their full potential, would eat up more salary than they would ice time. You just can’t have a well-balanced team, with three players, in one position, eating up so much salary. The timing has these three all earning big money at the same time, and strategically that can’t happen if you have holes elsewhere.
The salary cap environment of the NHL make the trade of Rundblad and a second, for Turris, a win.
Asset for asset, at this point, the ‘Yotes won this deal…due to the inclusion of the pick, but the game isn’t played on paper, by two men and a draft pick, right?
As for Turris himself, I’ve had the opportunity to hear from some people close to Kyle, both professionally and personally, and to a person they all believe in him and his abilities. Even some people who agree he was a “bust” in Phoenix, and strongly disagree with his handling of the situation.
“His biggest fault is probably his biggest asset” said one observer, “He wants to be a go to guy, a leader, a big time player, and he needs to accept he’s not, yet…that will be his and the coaching staffs biggest challenge, keeping Kyle moving forward toward his dream, but not focused on the fact he’s not there yet”.
Across the board the consensus is that Kyle has a deep desire to perform at his best, to be an impact player, and believed the ‘Yotes had become an obstacle in his attaining this dream.
Let’s call it irreconcilable differences, and leave it at that, for now. It’s happened before, to other players, who have gone on to have great careers.
I’m willing to let time be the ultimate judge of this trade, and accept it for what it is, at this time, a win on the ice, if not in the papers.
Follow Sensay on Twitter at @GNSensay