The view from Phoenix: Coyotes impressed with Rundblad’s instincts

The Phoenix Coyotes’ emphasis on defense has reached the point that they are strengthening their blue line even when that’s not their real objective.

The view from Phoenix: Coyotes impressed with Rundblad’s instincts
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

By Kevin Allen, USA Today

(MCT) — The Phoenix Coyotes’ emphasis on defense has reached the point that they are strengthening their blue line even when that’s not their real objective.
General manager Don Maloney originally was looking for a center when he decided to trade Kyle Turris. But when Maloney didn’t find a quality center in the trade marketplace, he moved Turris to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday for defenseman David Rundblad, who has the potential to have offensive impact with his puckhandling expertise.
“We have no centerman, but we’re going to look good on the blue line,” Maloney quipped. “We’re going to play great defense.”
Rundblad, 21, was the top-scoring defenseman in Sweden last season and has shown he has the raw skill to be a difference-maker, although his defensive play is unvarnished at this stage of his career.
“His patience with the puck (and) his instincts are second to none,” Maloney said. “In my experience, those smart players figure out how to adapt and become good players. Sergei Zubov comes to mind.”
Phoenix’s top defenseman Keith Yandle is 25, and highly regarded youngster Oliver Ekman-Larsson is 20. Surprising David Schlemko is 24. The Coyotes also have blue-chip prospect Brandon Gormley, who could make a push to join the team next season. The Coyotes also have two other quality defensive prospects in Connor Murphy, the son of former NHL player Gord Murphy, and Maxim Goncharov.
Maloney also liked the fact that Rundblad is a right-shot offensive-minded defenseman, who are always in demand for use on the power play. Yandle and Ekman-Larsson are left shots, as is Gormley.
“David is a work in progress,” Maloney said. “He is adjusting to the game on the smaller, North American ice surfaces along with the speed and strength of NHL players. He will be a tremendous player for us in the future, but we do not expect him to have major impact immediately.”
Last summer, the Coyotes weren’t planning to deal Turris. But he asked for the trade because he didn’t think the Phoenix situation afforded him the right opportunity to be the player he wanted to be.
“We liked everything about Kyle in regards to his compete level, his will, his drive,” Maloney said. “The only thing we varied on was the assessment of his game and where his game was at right now at this stage. We have a certain way we need to play here; we had seen Kyle a little lower in our lineup than he wanted to be or thought he should be.”

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