• By: Ron Guillet

The Evolution of Turris as a Top Line Center

The Ottawa Senators struck gold with Kyle Turris when they acquired the 25-year-old center from the Phoenix—now Arizona—Coyotes for defenseman David Rundblad and a second-round pick in 2012.

Turris’ time with the Coyotes came to a merciful end 25 days after he finally signed as a restricted free agent, missing the first 19 games of the 2011-12 campaign. The New Westminster, BC native played limited minutes with Phoenix, averaging over nine minutes of even-strength ice-time in the 2010-11 season. He produced a mere 25 points in 65 games but registered solid possession numbers that ranked him third on the club in Corsi Relative, which measures a player’s on-ice puck-possession relative to when he’s off the ice. It foreshadowed a bright future for the former third overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

The evolution of Turris as a top line center -- Image 1When Turris was shipped to Ottawa, he produced 29 points in 49 games, posting career highs across the board. He then enjoyed an identical season in terms of production the following year before busting out with 26 goals and 58 points last season. He continued his strong puck-possession play as well as he played tougher minutes and still drove play with less than favourable zone starts—he started shifts in the defensive end 52 per cent of time. This season, the Senators have struggled to maintain possession but Turris has remained a bright spot in that department relative to his tough minutes and 53 per cent defensive zone starts. He’s on pace to eclipse the 50-point plateau once again with his goal total set to slip somewhat, but that’s of no concern. His personal shooting percentage at even-strength, according to war-on-ice.com, is a lowly 3.9 per cent, which ranks him as one of the lowest on the team but also due for better luck in terms of goal scoring. His shooting percentage in all situations is 8.5 per cent, which is the lowest of his career—he had a 12.1 per cent last season and 10.2 per cent the season prior.

His goal scoring abilities aside, Turris’ playmaking shouldn’t be underemphasized as he ranks 44th in the league in Assists/60 with a 1.17, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com, which measures his assists at even-strength relative to the ice-time he receives. Last season, Turris ranked 31st in that statistic and 30th in Points/60, easily placing him in the company of first line centers—Jason Spezza, for comparison’s sake, ranked 18th in Points/60 last season.

If the Senators can regain the puck-possession prowess they had displayed the three previous seasons, Turris’ offensive output will continue to climb. He’s in his prime at 25 years old and he’s proven he has the skill-set to play as first line center in the NHL. Considering it only cost the Senators Rundblad and a second-round pick, the Senators could have done much worse.