Sens hoping for another Swedish home run



LOS ANGELES — David Rundblad was fast asleep at his home in Lycksele, Sweden, the moment the Ottawa Senators changed the course of his hockey career.

When the Senators opted to trade their 16th overall pick in Friday’s NHL draft to the St. Louis Blues for the rights to Rundblad, it was in the early morning hours in Sweden. It was only after he awoke and spotted the scores of emails, phone calls and text messages that he recognized he had become a member of the Senators.

“I had no idea that St. Louis would trade me, so it was a big surprise,” Rundblad said Saturday, in a telephone call from his home.

Rundblad has played alongside Ottawa’s Erick Karlsson on several Swedish national teams and is obviously familiar with Karlsson’s development into a dangerous NHL threat.

The plan calls for him to play another season with Skelleftea AIK in the Swedish Elite League.

“I think it’s a good organization and Erik Karlsson seems to like it there and they’ve also drafted some other good young Swedish players, too,” said Rundblad, who considers himself similar to Karlsson and likes to shine on the power play.

“Of course, I know Daniel Alfredsson and he’s the big the guy in Ottawa. I’m looking forward to it. It’s a good team to play for.”

General manager Bryan Murray says the Senators scouting staff believed Rundblad would have been a top-10 selection if he was in the current draft. The Blues had originally chosen him 17th overall in the 2009 draft.

Only three weeks ago, Rundblad was in St. Louis and signed an entry level contract with the Blues, believing he was a part of the long-term future there.

The Senators had no selection in the second round of the draft Saturday — that pick was shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes in the deal for Matt Cullen at the trade deadline last March — and their four remaining selections are all considered long-term prospects.

Their first actual selection was Jakub Culek in the third round (76th overall). Culek, 6-3 and 185 pounds, scored 13 goals and 34 assists with Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

“I’m so very happy, this is my dream,” Culek said, in broken English. “(Rimouski) is good for me, there are good people in Rimouski, everybody helps me, there are good guys on the team. The French is just a little bit tough for me, but the guys teach me.”

Long-term, the Senators project that Culek could eventually become a third-line NHL centre or winger, similar to Phoenix Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal, capable of using his size to contain opposition forwards.

In the fourth round (106th overall), the Senators chose Markus Sorensen, a 5-11, 156-pound Swede. Sorensen scored seven goals and 10 assists in 27 games with his junior team, Sodertalje in Sweden, and could play in the Elite League next season.

The Senators didn’t have a fifth round choice, but chose Brandon Wheat Kings winger Mark Stone in the sixth round (178th overall). Stone, 6-2 and 188 pounds, suffered through a concussion and a wrist injury this season, scoring 11 goals and 17 assists in 39 regular season games, but had a strong Memorial Cup tournament.

With their final choice, the club selected Bryce Aneloski, another offensive defenceman who starred with Cedar Rapids of the United States Hockey League. Aneloski, a 20-year-old who has been passed up in previous drafts, will attend the University of Nebraska at Omaha next season.

Ottawa Citizen

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