(Editor's note: This is one in a series of features about prospects who might possibly be available when the Ottawa Senators make the No. 9 selection of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, set for June 26-27 in Montreal. Choices are based on rankings by several services, including NHL Central Scouting).
|Swedish defenceman David Rundblad's offensive skills have helped make him a top prospect for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal (Photo by Jana Chytilova/NHLI via Getty Images).
David Rundblad is anything but subtle when he talks about his instincts on the ice.
“I try to play an offensive game and that’s my strength,” said the Swedish defenceman, a highly regarded prospect for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. “I like to stickhandle and keep the puck, but I think I have defence in the (defensive) zone, too. But it is my offence that is No. 1.”
No wonder, then, that the 18-year-old from Lycksele, Sweden, draws comparisons to Mike Green, the flashy blueliner from the Washington Capitals who racked up 31 goals and 73 points in the 2008-09 season – both totals the best among all NHL defencemen.
Rundblad wouldn’t mind patterning his game along the lines of his Capitals counterpart. For what it’s worth, they’re both 6-foot-2, though Rundblad has some catching up to do in the weight department (he’s 190 pounds; Green checks in at 208).
“It’s not exactly the way I play, but I like the way Mike Green plays in Washington,” Rundblad told NHL.com. “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.”
His numbers during his first season with Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League – no goals, 10 assists in 45 games – might suggest otherwise, but Rundblad was a 17-year-old rookie competing against men. In 10 games with Skelleftea’s junior team, he totalled 15 points, including eight goals, which might provide a better read on his game. A year ago, Rundblad collected 11 goals in 26 points in 35 games at the junior level.
“He has a very good shot,” said Goran Stubb, the NHL’s director of European scouting. “(Rundblad) is a right-handed shot and he is used on the power play, even in the (Elite) league despite being a young player. He is a very smart player.”
"I try to play an offensive game and that's my strength. I like to stickhandle and keep the puck, but I think I have defence in the (defensive) zone, too. But it is my offence that is No. 1." - David Rundblad
Rundblad is also said to be poised beyond his years, though Stubb adds “he could be a little more physical in his game, but that is something he is learning.”
The jump to the Swedish Elite League has been an eye-opener, Rundblad admitted.
“It’s a pretty tough adjustment, but you are getting better playing against (older players),” said Rundblad, who was part of Sweden’s silver-medal winning team at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. “They are strong and much more strategic, so you have to play smarter and smarter. I have to think faster. You can’t keep the puck so long; you have to make a fast pass.”
Opinion varies on where Rundblad fits into the 2009 draft, set for June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. NHL Central Scouting places him sixth among European skaters in its final rankings, a drop of two spots from mid-season. But The Hockey News
slots Rundblad in at 10th overall – just one position below the ninth pick the Ottawa Senators currently hold in the first round.