The Senators have picked a winner in Kyle Turris.
While many are questioning GM Bryan Murray’s decision to deal young defenceman David Rundblad and a second-round pick in the 2012 draft to the Phoenix Coyotes Saturday, those who know Turris believe Ottawa has made the right move.
The top defenceman in Sweden last season, Rundblad could develop into a high-scoring, high-skilled NHLer, but many believe Turris is going to get a much better chance to develop into a top-two centre playing for the Senators.
“I really think this is a great move for Turris and for the Senators,” said former 67’s goalie Darren Pang Sunday from St. Louis, where he’s a colour analyst on Blues’ broadcasts. “This is going to be a great chance for him to develop.”
Not many know Turris’ story better than Pang. When Turris was a rookie with the Coyotes in 2008-09, Pang was working as an analyst on Phoenix broadcasts and Turris lived with the family for four months until he found his own place.
Though many know Turris as a hockey player, Pang is aware what makes this 22-year-old ticks and believes the Senators have got themselves a player who badly wants to succeed and emerge as a top centre.
While Turris and agent Kurt Overhardt had a public battle with the Coyotes that included a holdout and culminated with the trade, Pang said that shouldn’t make observers think Turris is a bad person.
“He’s a terrific kid and there’s nothing wrong with this kid,” said Pang. “If people look at this kid and assume something, they’re wrong. He’s a terrific person and all he’s ever wanted to be is a top NHL player.
“That’s what he’s been destined to be. I don’t know exactly what happened with he and Kurt Overhardt and what the family decided other than the fact he wasn’t getting a lot of responsibility on the ice in Phoenix. I have to believe that frustrated him to the point to want him to make a change.”
Turris joined Phoenix after one season at the University of Wisconsin. He was urged to come out of school by the Coyotes and it was a move that hurt his development because his role changed when Dave Tippett took over as coach in 2009.
“He was prematurely taken out of Wisconsin and that hurt his development,” said Pang. “It was fine when Wayne (Gretzky) was the coach because Wayne put aside wins and losses for the development of his young players.
“He had Turris, (Mikkel) Boedker, (Viktor) Tikonhov and, to some extent Keith Yandle. Those young players were playing over 14 minutes at a night. Everybody would have agreed he should have stayed another year at Wisconsin.
“He had a tough time: The schedule, the maturity, the strength. He came into the Pacific Division and the other top centres were (Anze) Kopitar, (Ryan) Getzlaf, (Brad) Richards and (Joe Thornton). I think when Turris went into another team’s rink that was really difficult and overwhelming.”
Pang said Turris has speed, skill and a heavy shot.
“He’s a dynamic forward that sees the ice really well. The big thing for him is that he can really shoot the puck. That’s important for a centre. For a guy you don’t think is that big or strong, he snaps the puck very hard,” said Pang.
“Most centremen in the league, like Jason Spezza, tend to pass all the time. The thing that makes Kyle a pretty good player is that he’s not afraid to shoot the puck. If you’ve got a centreman who can shoot the puck, that can make people back off on your team a little bit.”
DONE DEAL FOR FILATOV
Reports Sunday confirmed Nikita Filatov has agreed to a contract with CSKA Moscow and will join the club this week. His deal will be guaranteed by the KHL. Senators GM Bryan Murray had moved Filatov's rights to Binghamton on Saturday to get his contract off the books while awaiting for the KHL deal to go through.