In more ways than one, as it turned out.
The Senators came into the 2010 draft owning the 16th overall pick in the first round. But general manager Bryan Murray never made it to the stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, dealing the selection to the St. Louis Blues for defenceman David Rundblad. The 19-year-old native of Lycksele, Sweden, was the Blues' first-round pick (17th overall) in the 2009 draft.
Murray decided to make the move after a forward that the Senators had their eyes on went off the board. Ottawa has a "close relationship" with Rundblad, he added, because he plays for Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League. Anders Forsberg, the Sens' scout in Sweden, will be that team's head coach next season.
"He's offensive, real smart, a puck mover ... one of the players who fits today's game," said Murray in explaining the rationale behind the trade, which left the Senators without a first-round pick for the first time in franchise history. "We talked to several teams about (trading) back and getting another pick. But David goes back, he plays one more season in Sweden, and he'll be ready to step in and play in the NHL the next year.
"Trading back and getting second-round picks ... you wait and wait and hope you get lucky and get yourself a player or two. We think this guy can come in and play within a year."
Added director of player personnel Pierre Dorion: "We felt, at this point in the draft, (compared to) whoever we were going to take at 16 ... David Rundblad was going to be a better asset for the future.
"This option was a pretty good option for us because we know we're getting a defenceman that we feel, within two years, is going to be a top-four defenceman. The way the game is played now ... we got some who is going to play that way."
The 6-2, 189-pound Rundblad collected one goal and 12 assists in 47 games for Skelleftea during the 2009-10 season. The Senators intend to let him play one more season in Sweden under Forsberg's tutelage.
Forsberg, for one, admitted surprise that the Blues would trade a player they recently signed to an entry-level contract. He termed it a "real good trade" for the Senators.
"He reminds me a lot of (2008 Senators first-round pick) Erik Karlsson
, but he's bigger," said Forsberg. "I was a little bit shocked when this came up, this ability to trade for David Rundblad. He has a really good future in the NHL. I know him so well, I've known him for five years. I know almost everything about him.
"He has potential, but he needs to be stronger. That's the reason he's going to play in Sweden for another year. He's smart and he knows he needs one more year to practise real, real hard."
"We felt, at this point in the draft, (compared to) whoever we were going to take at 16 ... David Rundblad was going to be a better asset for the future. This option was a pretty good option for us because we know we're getting a defenceman that we feel, within two years, is going to be a top-four defenceman. The way the game is played now ... we got some who is going to play that way." - Pierre Dorion
By adding Rundblad, the Senators continue to stockpile top blue-line prospects in their system. Karlsson made a major impact during his rookie season with the team last season. Jared Cowen
, Ottawa's top pick in 2009 (ninth overall), and Patrick Wiercioch
, a second-round selection in '08, are also considered to be major cornerstones on the Senators' blue line going forward.
Now add Rundblad into that mix. If he turns out to be even close to the defenceman he patterns his game after, the Senators figure to be adding a dynamic element on the back end.
"It’s not exactly the way I play, but I like the way Mike Green plays in Washington,” Rundblad told NHL.com prior to the 2009 draft. “I am not sure if I am his style, but I like watching him … He’s very offensive and is a good skater. He likes to go on offence and he has a great shot.
"I try to play an offensive game and that’s my strength ... My biggest thing is my offence and my stick skills."
Rundblad isn't exactly a stranger to Scotiabank Place or the nation's capital. He helped Sweden win the silver medal at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Ottawa, playing on a team that included a pair of potential future Senators teammates — Karlsson and forward Andre Petersson.
The 2010 draft concludes Saturday, with the Senators currently owning picks in the third (76th overall), fourth (106th), sixth (178th) and seventh (196th) rounds.