Now, David Rundblad is another prospect who hails from Sweden who could very well end up in the first round this Friday at the NHL Draft. In the SBN Mock Draft, Rundblad was selected today by The Cannon for the Columbus Blue Jackets at 16th overall. Hopefully, he'll be able to slip a bit further and possibly be available when the Devils have their first pick at 23rd overall.
David Rundblad - Defenseman - 6'2" - 191 lbs. - Hometown: Lycksele, Sweden
2008-09 Team: Skelleftea AIK - 45 GP - 0 G - 10 A - 10 PTS - 8 PIM (source)
After being selected in the SBN Mock Draft, the Cannon had this short profile on Rundblad. It hits most of the high notes about Rundblad, of which there isn't a lot of deviation from what is out there about the defender. Also from another SBN blog, Matchsticks and Gasoline has this short profile. Let's find out what others think of the defender.
As far as what NHL.com has to offer, the article written by Shawn Roarke about the defender immediately makes the comparison to Mike Green. I feel the most pertinent section of the article is the following:
Green went at No. 29 in the first round of the 2004 Entry Draft. But is Rundblad really a Mike Green in waiting? Rundblad brushes off the comparisons.
"It's not exactly the way I play, but I like the way Mike Green plays in Washington," he told NHL.com. "I'm not sure if I am his style, but I like watching him."
However, the similarities are undeniably there.
Rundblad is 6-foot-2, the same as Green. Rundblad currently weighs 190 pounds, but there is room for the extra 10 to 15 pounds that Green currently carries.
Like Green, Rundblad is a good skater who thinks offense first and always is trying to key the rush -- be it with a laser-like outlet pass or, just as often, a hell-bent-for-leather rush up ice with the puck glued to his blade.
"I try to play offense," Rundblad said. "I like to stickhandle and keep the puck; but I think I have defense in the (defensive) zone, too. But it is my offense that is No. 1."
Right there, Roarke explains the Green comparisons, something a bit more tangible than just, "This guy is an offensive defenseman, so compare him to Mike Green." More importantly, Rundblad himself admits that he is an offensive-minded defenseman. While Rundblad did not score a whole lot of points with Skelleftea, he made his mark in the club's U-18 and U-20 teams earlier, as noted by Roarke in the same article.
Rundblad is the teammate of Tim Erixon on Skelleftea and Sweden's national team, and in this NHL.com article, he complimented Erixon's defensive skills. In this article on Rundblad, Erixon returned the favor:
Erixon knows he is an odds-on favorite to go in the first round of the Entry Draft, but he also knows he is not as offensively gifted as his close friend.
"It's just the way he handles the puck," Erixon told NHL.com. "He's great with his puck-handling and, obviously, he scores a lot of goals, too."
Lastly, this article has the quote from the NHL Director of European Scouting, Goran Stubb, who sums up Rundblad's abilities. Incidentally, CSS has ranked him 6th - behind Erixon - among European skaters. Stubb's quote:
"He has a very good shot," Stubb told NHL.com. "He 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. [...] He could be a little more physical in his game, but that is something that he is learning."
Oddly enough, there isn't as much information out there on Rundblad that's easily available. Unless I missed something, which is a bit odd considering Rundblad played a majority of the 2008-09 season with the senior Skelleftea team in the SEL, which is definitely a great experience for a young player. That's professional Moreover, he represented Sweden at the U-20 level, namely in the World Junior Championships, where Sweden earned the silver medal. While he didn't score a whole bunch with only one goal and one assist; he was a presence on their blueline.
Interestingly, though, plenty of mock drafts seem to have Rundblad go before 23rd overall - not just SBN's mock draft. NHL.com's three mock drafts all have Rundblad going in the middle of the first round, all praising his offensive skills; Heated Skates has him just above the top 20 and compares him to Mark Streit; and Ryan Kennedy's mock draft at THN has Rundblad going just out of the top 10. Not everyone is that high on him, Hockey's Future has him going 25th overall to Boston; CSS did rank him below Erixon; and I feel that Elite Prospects' profile on Rundblad both shows why some are high on him and why some feel he'll slip down a bit:
Rundblad is an offensive minded defenseman with very good size and puck skills. He has impressive vision and likes to move the puck into the offensive zone with slick stickhandling and good speed. Handles the puck with confidence and has very good poise. A great option from the blueline, where he releases a fairly accurate shot and also find his teammates with tape-to-tape passes. Size and strength is good.
In his own end, Rundblad tends to not play it simple enough at times. He is a tad too creative and could also be more aggressive and determined in his play. If he develops his defensive game, he will be a high-scoring two-way defenseman. If not, he will still be a capable power play quarterback, but a potential liability in his own end.
The first half of this explains why he could be, maybe should be, a top 20 pick. He can skate, he's solid on the puck, he's got good size, and he's able to make good passes. The second half explains why some teams may pass on him: his defensive work. Rundblad praised Erixon for his defensive work and in conjunction with this analysis, it's a weakness. Given how some praise his offensive skills, I openly wonder if he's the next Mark Streit/lesser Mike Green, or whether he's the next Andy Delmore (a.k.a. An_y _elmore, as he has no 'D').
That said, Skelleftea probably doesn't keep up defenders with the senior team if they are a liability on defense, so perhaps an Andy Delmore comparison is unwarranted. Moreover, this is a position that benefits with more experience, so these issues could be addressed over time. If Rundblad tries to do too much and/or at the wrong times, then I would think it could be worked on with his coach.
I come away thinking that Rundblad's offensive talent, his experience so far as a player, and his physical traits (skating, size) would make him an excellent draft choice for many teams, not just the Devils. Bizarrely, I almost want hope some teams are concerned enough about his defensive acumen to consider someone else if only he could be available at 23rd overall. Then again, if what I'm thinking is true, then I would be geniuinely surprised if he slipped all the way down that far.
Now it's time to have your say. Have you seen Rundblad in the World Junior Championships; and if so, how did he look? Do you know of any other sources on how Rundblad is as a player or what he could become? Leave all your Rundblad related comments here.