Monday, December 19, 2011


Well at some level we all knew this day was going to come. Brian Murray has been stocking up so much on defensive prospects that we were going to end up with a log jam on the blue line, which meant that we would have to trade some of them away at some point (bad!) but hopefully would give us elite defense prospects to offer in exchange for elite offensive prospects (good!).

Saturday that process started up as Murray sent David Runblad and a 2nd round pick to Phoenix for prospect-become-holdout Kyle Turris. Turris is expected to be the second line center that the team needs.

There are a several ways to look at this in a positive light. First, the logjam on the blue line meant that Runblad was going to have sharply reduced minutes when Kuba and Gonchar return. With Karlsson, Cowen, Gonchar and Kuba controlling the first two pairings, and don't forget Phillips is still around too. That left Runblad, Carkner and Lee all scrambling to be the sixth defenseman. And with Lee (of all people!) making a solid case for being a reliable role-player on the third pairing, Runblad ended up being the odd man out.

Even if he had stuck, in the long run there'd be salary issues. Nobody doubts right now that Karlsson will be paid elite money for the elite plays he can make. Cowen too makes the case for being paid solid money. Even if Runblad developed as we'd hoped, eventually one of the three would have to go -- and it wouldn't be Karlsson.

Secondly, there's looking at the upside of a potential second-line center, something the team sorely needs these days. Regin isn't healthy, and frankly he wasn't filling those shoes very well when he was healthy. If Spezza gets hurt again this year, the team would be in a world of hurt.

Thirdly there's the tack taken by Silver Seven Sens: that Runblad's accomplishments in the SEL, while impressive on their face, have historically not panned out in the long run. While interesting, to me it sort of smacks of well-we-didn't-really-want-him-in-the-first-place revisionist history.

So yeah, lots of positive ways to look ait.

But of course I don't do that.

Runblad is in his first season in the NHL. If there was a logjam on the blue line, and Runblad wasn't good enough to stick, he should have been sent down to Bingo where he'd be useful as an injury call-up and generally continue to learn the North American game. Next year if he didn't stick, then its time to trade. Of course you risk making another Brian Lee, and we already have one of those.

But Runblad's value is nowhere near its peak. He has lots of development to do, and a couple more years to do it in. If he was going to be an elite defenseman, his value would only go up.

So even straight up, Runblad for Turris, I don't like the trade. But throwing in a 2nd round pick, weighted lottery ticket that that is... I think we got robbed.

But in the long run things could turn out differently. Injuries aside, the Heatley deal has turned out in Ottawa's favor. I have even said so in the past -- that Heatley's defection likely accelerated the realization that a rebuild was going to be necessary. So maybe in the long run we'll think this was a good move.

Just looks expensive to me right at teh moment.