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Turris welcomes move from desert to hockey hotbed

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Centre Kyle Turris is enthused about getting a fresh start in Ottawa with the Senators, and is expected to make his debut with the team Tuesday at home against the Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images).

The Ottawa Senators hope their thirst for more strength up the middle has been quenched by an import from the Arizona desert.

In a blockbuster move earlier today, the Senators acquired 22-year-old centre Kyle Turris from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for young Swedish defenceman David Rundblad and a second-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Turris was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, while Rundblad — who was acquired by the Senators for their first-rounder in 2010 — went 17th in the opening round of the 2009 lottery. Both are considered young talents with plenty of untapped potential.

The 21-year-old Rundblad became of victim of Ottawa's depth on defence. While veteran blueliners Filip Kuba and Sergei Gonchar are currently injured, both are on target to return next week, which would have given the Senators eight healthy defencemen at their disposal.

"To get a top six forward, you definitely have to pay for it — there's no doubt about that," Senators general manager Bryan Murray said about the deal. "We like David Rundblad and we think, three years down the road in our situation, he would have been a real good fit — possibly as early as next year. But at the moment, ...  he was going to get shuffled aside likely for the balance of the year. To be fair to him and fair to us, we thought we could get an asset (that), with the type of game our team is playing now and the level our team is competing at on a nightly basis ... we think can come in here and add to the mix right at the moment.

"We hope Kyle is a good second-line centreman who will come in and play hard. We believe he is a very talented young man that will be a real nice addition to our forward group."

The move also provides a welcome fresh start for Turris, a restricted free agent who held out for the first six weeks of this season before signing a two-year contract with Phoenix. Even with the deal done, Turris expected to be moved. He's played just six games with the Coyotes this season and yet to record a point. 

"I think there was an understanding on both sides that we wanted to move forward and move on ... it was definitely made clear," Turris told reporters via conference call earlier this afternoon. "I had known the last couple of days (a move was imminent). I didn’t know the exact date or where, but I was given the heads up that something could possibly happen soon."

That he's coming to a Canadian market — and Ottawa in particular — adds to his enthusiasm.

"When I heard I was traded to Ottawa, I was extremely excited to be a Senator and to be in a Canadian market, and all the fun that’s going to come with that," said Turris, who believes he "really didn't fit" in Phoenix. "I talked to coach (Paul) MacLean this morning and he said he’s excited to have me, and I told him how excited I was to be a Senator and that I’m looking forward to getting there Monday, joining the team at practice and getting to work."

MacLean is indeed enthused about acquiring a young forward he believes will fit in well with the puck possession style he favours for his team, which puts a premium on skating and speed.

"He brings the (style) I like to play," said MacLean, who expects to have Turris in the lineup on Tuesday, when the Buffalo Sabres visit Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200). "He can really skate, he can shoot the puck and brings a dimension of speed to our team. It really solidifies that second-line (centre) position that we’re looking to fill and we’re excited to have him."

Murray has little doubt that Turris can be a contributor in Ottawa over the long haul, and that he'll be a good fit among the group of young forwards starting to make their mark with the Senators.

"We’ve got some real good role players (up front) and some big strong kids that will do the job defensively," said Murray. "We maybe lack a little bit on the offensive side in a couple of cases, so we’re hoping (Turris) gets the (scoring) touch that we believe he has and he’ll come in here, play in an offensive situation and add to the chemistry and mix of our team.

"He's an NHL player. I think he’s a good NHL player. His ability with the puck and his shot ... he’ll come in here and be, I don’t think there’s any question, a good player on this hockey team."

Turris, who's totalled 19 goals and 46 points in 137 National Hockey League games to date, is "good buddies" with Senators defence prospect Patrick Wiercioch, a former teammate with the Burnaby Express of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League in 2006-07. He also roomed with Senators centre Jason Spezza three years ago, when both were attending Team Canada tryouts for the 2008 world championship in Quebec City.

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