How interested should the Edmonton Oilers be in David Rundblad?

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On Monday, the Chicago Blackhawks put defenceman David Rundblad on waivers. The 25-year-old rearguard has been with the organization for parts of three seasons, playing 63 games, putting up 16 points and managing a plus-14 rating along with decent underlying numbers.

He never won over head coach Joel Quenneville, though. Rundblad fell out of favour in 2014-15, and never found his way back. He’s played just nine games this season and Chicago’s management now seems to have bowed to the inevitable.

Rundblad was a first round pick of St. Louis (17th overall) in the 2009 Draft, selected seven picks after former Oiler Magnus Paajarvi and four after current Oiler Zack Kassian. His trade history since that point shows both his great potential as well as the decline in his relative value:

  • 2009: Drafted No. 17 overall
  • 2010: Traded by St. Louis to Ottawa for the No. 16 overall pick (Vladimir Tarasenko)
  • 2011: Traded by Ottawa to Arizona with a second-round pick for Kyle Turris
  • 2014: Traded by Arizona to Chicago with ECHL’er Mathieu Brisebois for a second-round pick

One thing worth noting here is that current Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was working in St. Louis on the amateur scouting side. 

Rundblad was praised for his intelligence, vision and offensive instincts in his draft year; one scout quoted by The Hockey News said he’d enjoy a long NHL career and that “he has poise beyond his years.” He was compared to draft peer Victor Hedman by another scout, who described Rundblad’s offensive skills as being superior to those of his countryman.

In 2010-11, Rundblad put up 50 points in 55 games in Sweden’s top league. Writing for THN, Bruce Garrioch said that he had “the offensive bent of Erik Karlsson” but that his development was “further along.”

Rundblad made the NHL immediately upon arriving in North America, but when the Coyotes acquired him they decided to give him some development time in the AHL. His last full season in the minors was in 2012-13; he put up 39 points in 50 games.

Chicago liked him enough to take on a dead contract and part with a second-round pick, but Rundblad never was given much of a shot by his new coach. The offensive specialist was given barely any power play time; instead Quenneville (understandably) stuck with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook as his two power play defencemen. At even-strength, he averaged just over 12 minutes per game, playing with an assortment of partners and enjoying success with pretty much all of them. He had a 58% Corsi number and Chicago averaged more than 3.0 goals/hour when he played with Keith, but he also had a 56% Corsi number and Chicago averaged more than 3.0 goals/hour (and less than 1.0 goals/hour against) when he played with Michal Rozsival.

He was certainly sheltered and was playing with a good team, but he was good enough that he should latch on somewhere. Interestingly, the player replacing him on the roster is none other than Erik Gustafsson, a fourth-round pick of the Oilers in 2012 who the team opted not to offer a contract. Gustafsson has 11 points in 27 games for Chicago’s AHL affiliate, and put up three points in six previous games with the Blackhawks.

Should the Oilers Put in a Claim?

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Brad Hunt and Nikita Nikitin are both currently on Edmonton’s NHL roster.

It isn’t actually quite that simple, of course. Hunt and Nikitin are both left-shot defencemen and are only on the roster because Oscar Klefbom and Brandon Davidson are hurt. Eventually, those guys will come back and the defence will start looking a little more respectable.

Having said that, the Oilers have a lot of uncertainty on their right side at the moment. Justin Schultz is a pending restricted free agent who will need to be qualified at nearly $4.0 million. Mark Fayne is under contract at slightly less but clearly has fallen out of favour with the coach and cleared waivers earlier this year. Eric Gryba is a pending unrestricted free agent. All three of those players could be gone when Edmonton kicks off next season.

Additionally, the Oilers are currently in great need of a power play point man. It’s why Hunt is with the team, and Hunt’s defensive liabilities are such that I wonder if Edmonton doesn’t go with 11 forwards and seven defencemen when the team opts to dress him. Rundblad’s skill on the man advantage is such that it is not an exaggeration to say that Edmonton could claim him one day and build its first unit power play around him the next.

Rundblad is under contract for another year after this one, but at a modest $1.05 million cap hit.

It won’t be a crime if the Oilers pass on this player. Having said that, I’d be inclined to put a claim in if I were Peter Chiarelli. At worst he’s a right-shot No. 6/7 defenceman and power play specialist. At best he might be considerably more than that. Edmonton needs to add a lot of things to its back end and one of those needed items is a defenceman who can man the power play point both more cheaply and more effectively than Schultz has this year. Rundblad is a reasonable bet to fit the bill.

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  • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

    Interesting that when traded, the team acquiring him has lost every deal, by a wide margin.

    Maybe acquiring him for nothing, changes that trend. He’s got to be better than no one. Further, he at the very least, has to be better than half of the D we currently troll other NHL teams with on a nightly basis.

  • 15w40

    He is listed as a right shot on the Hawks website.

    Claim him and send Schultz to the minors to see what you have. Best case he was not a Quennville guy and he blossoms here.

    Worst case he is another tweener that might get some time.

    Even if he is Schultz 2.0 he is making $1.0M not close to $4.0M

    Schultz can walk and this guy can fill his shoes at a price point that makes waayy more sense.

    Schultz’s salary is going to spell the end of him with the Oilers. They can’t possibly justify qualifying him at the required amount.

    Maybe the Bluejackets put in a claim – don’t see the ducks doing it.

  • tileguy

    Where are we on the 50 contract limit? Be a shame we couldn’t make a sweet deadline deal because we have too many contracts assigned to reclamation projects.

  • The argument that a move shouldn’t be made because there are bigger issues to deal with is exactly the type of thinking that led the team to this downward spiral in the first place.

    You may find it interesting to know that the team CAN still look for other moves AT THE SAME TIME as picking up a once very promising young player for free to see if he can make any headway while he is still young enough to do so.

    Remember how upset you all were when Glencross was ignored during a whale hunt? That’s exactly what you’re demanding now.

  • Glass

    I say do it, he’s only a cap hit of 1 million. We are lacking depth in the farm because we pulled up Davidson, Nurse, Hunt, etc.

    The main selling point for me is, if he was number 6/7 on the depth chart of Chicago, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’d be the same in Edmonton. You can always flip him for something better in the 2017 deadline.

    EDIT: He’s a right handed shot. DO IT. Can you honestly say Gryba, Shultz, and Fayne will be here next year? Give this kid a shot, if we find out he is a fit, that’s less work to do at the deadline/summer. If not, flip him for something better next year.

  • bazmagoo

    Considering Fayne and Nikitin will easily pass through waivers, his low cap hit, young age and high pedigree, he’s a right sided shot, and we’ve been carrying 8 dmen all season, I say go for it Chiarelli!

  • A-Mc

    I was at the game last night watching Justin Schultz along with my entire family……..three Flames fans and one Oilers fan, jerseys and all.

    I was surrounded by Oilers fans which was quite halrious. Each and every time Justin Schultz touched the puck something bad happened. HIs only positive was that he outraced Johnny Hockey for an icing. Previously I thought JS was just going through a tough phase but after watching him last night,……….I now think that he has forgotten how to play hockey.

    He was brutal to say the least. David Runblad on his worst night will be a stronger edition than JS. Honestly any ( and I mean any) hockey player in the AHL or the ECHL will be an upgrade over JS.

  • bazmagoo

    Well, the price is right, and surely he can’t be worse than some we have already (and cheaper.) Hawks have enough good D.

    As for Kassian, as PC said, one strike and you’re out. Give him a chance. I kind of like the idea of him protecting Connor from the Philly type bullies, even tho I have a long memory when it comes to Sam Gagner’s injury..

  • fran huckzky

    II believe that the Oilers have only one maybe two spots left to complete their 50 man roster. If they claim Rundblad they may handcuff any possible future moves. That would be why they traded for Kassian rather than pluckhim off waivers. I say pass unless you place someone on waivers that you know will get picked up.

    • CDNinATL

      If I can count, we’re either at 47 or 48 depending on if we have to count Bogdan Yakimov or not. With having gone to the KHL, I’m not how that works since I don’t think we killed his contract.

  • bradleypi

    Oilersnation is so desperate to wave goodbye to schultz that picking up ANOTHER 3rd pairing dman is top priority? Lol. I’d pass. But I’m also hoping that Chiarelli is working on a deal to bring at least a top 4 dman to town. A top 2 would be nice.

  • fran huckzky

    Edm. Does not need a player like this, in desperate need of top2 d-man to help with Nurse and rest of infirmary. Need to off load a bunch of salary first and foremost.

  • KACaribou

    It seems to me that after last night’s game the obvious difference between the Flames and Oilers was the defense. Nurse is going to be a stud but he is no top pairing D-man right now. He will be, but he needs time. Oilers have the offensive assets to package up someone for a stud D-man. Schultz needs to be playing 10-15 min.

  • I say claim him…claim him claim him….he is an upgrade on
    Nikitin,hunt,Shultz, and gryba( but not in toughness)…. It’s a very good move for bottom pair and he will spark the power play…..I say we waive Shultz right after and or trade him for a pick… With his low salary it will also free up some cash when we chase a true number one in free agency this summer….do it .. I have seen him play he’s worth it.

  • Why are people talking like the Oilers are the only team to ever claim players off waivers? 11 Players have been claimed so far this season and none of them by the Oilers so far.

    The Wild are a pretty good team no? They’ve claimed 2 players so far this year. Nashville claimed a guy waived by the Leafs.

    Stop pretending waivers isn’t a legitimate tool to acquire players and that only the Oilers are “dumb enough” to make claims.

  • To the point of adding Rundblad to the Oil I think it is a good idea and a low risk one at that. However so far Chiarelli appears to be the managerial equivalent of Justin Schultz. Any chance of playing meaningful games this spring is fading away daily and his hands are firmly in his panties.

    I don’t want anything done which is rash but ‘good grief Char-elli Brown’ freaking manage will ya’…

  • A-Mc

    Rundblad Cleared waivers, which is a little disappointing.

    If the Oilers acquired him and he was atleast as good as schultz (which isnt hard to do), then they basically saved themselves 3m in cap space next season when they bail schultz at the deadline.

    Having a player LIKE schultz isn’t ideal but its a reality of this team. If we could have that TYPE of player for 3M/yr cheaper, it’d be a less painful pill to swallow.

  • A-Mc

    With Rundblad cleared, i wonder if the Oilers find a way to trade Schultz or Hunt for him? This way they aren’t loading up on contracts. Although Defensemen are worth picks-galore come trade deadline day.