One good thing about this trade: TSN dusts off the ol’ “Capital Gain” headline.
Okay, so let’s take the following epithets: “Build from the net out.” “Slow and steady rebuild.” “Five year plan.” And put those in a basket and then just sort of pitch them flaming into the night sky. Because the dream scenario of having three elite defensemen capable of playing 20+ minutes a night, playing solid two-way hockey, and driving the offense for years, of combining them with solid goaltending, and of complementing them with available and affordable 20-goal scorers, is now null.
It’s not that I don’t agree that the team has its share of depth on the backend, or that forward depth is a priority, or that Cowen and Karlsson are both working out wonderfully, or that the options for the 2nd line center pivot in Zibanejad, DaCosta and Regin are seriously lacking at the moment. It’s just that this isn’t the right time to trade a bluechip prospect, isn’t the maximum yield for that trade, and isn’t the right time for the franchise to be taking on more risk.
It’s the Vermette situation all over again: a good player, who you know you can turn into an asset that will help the team, is flipped in the name of winning now. Like the Vermette trade, this could burn Ottawa in a big way.
Remember where Karlsson was halfway through his first season? Sent down to the AHL for some conditioning, looking small and overmatched, he showed flashes of offensive brilliance but was thought to be a player who might only be used selectively. And if he turned out to only be a powerplay specialist, no one would have minded if he were traded at the time for a player who could “help the team now.” After all, the team had yet to admit that it couldn’t compete. The playoffs were in sight.
And thank god that never happened. Karlsson’s value is now at its height, and he’s a cornerstone of a team rebuild. All the more reason why Rundblad might have become expendable, but two questions:
1) Why trade Rundblad now, after a third of a season, when in a season or two he might be at his most valuable? You’d think Karlsson now might get more than just a Turris-like reclamation project. If Rundblad comes anywhere close to Karlsson’s current state, one thinks he might have gotten much more.
2) Why trade the pick that turned into Tarasenko for Rundblad only to trade Rundblad two seasons later for a player looking less likely to succeed than Tarasenko? If this club is lacking in offense, the players available at the time of the draft might have provided the same services, and without two or three seasons of wasted development.
There’s no doubt that Turris is an elite prospect – or, at least once was – but Ottawa shouldn’t be taking these kinds of risks at this point in the rebuild. Rundblad was as close to a sure thing as you could get. And he’s traded, well before he reaches full value, for a lottery ticket. It’s almost as if the team is caught up in being a bubble team and is fantasizing about that sweet playoff revenue. Gotta pay for that scoreboard, I guess.
Oh yeah, and they needed to throw in a second round pick! Which could very well turn into a very high pick if the team plays more like people expected them to! Perfect.