Final draft thoughts

That pick was about as popular as the finale of The Sopranos. I was stunned, frankly, but it will be fascinating to judge this pick in a few years, particularly since Alzner, the presumed top defenseman in the draft, was picked immediately after Hickey. In a few years, Lombardi will either look like a genius or…well, fill in your own word. Many of you already have.

Know this much, at least. I’m told that Lombardi and crew watched countless hours of film on these prospects, way more than the previous regime ever did before a draft. And that’s not a knock on the previous regime, it’s just what I was told. So Lombardi obviously saw something that made him want to take a risk this big. The internal debate, among front-office people, was whether to take Hickey or a particular forward, whose name was not disclosed. Lombardi said he had two or three potential deals that would have allowed him to move down, but they fell through. Take it for what it’s worth, but Lombardi said he talked to an executive, one whose team was picking somewhere between No. 10 and No. 13, and that executive told Lombardi that his team would have taken Hickey.

I thought they would take Alzner because I figured they would take a defenseman and I thought they would take a defenseman who was more NHL-ready. Even so, I never thought of Alzner as being a “Lombardi pick.” It’s too safe, too bland. Lombardi is a risk-taker who seems to enjoy going against the grain, and he certainly did that tonight. It’s going to take a while for everyone to determine if he got the second coming of Rob Blake or Aki Berg.

It’s a high risk-reward pick. It would have looked a lot better if Lombardi had been able to trade down a couple spots. But Lombardi picked with confidence, so maybe he will get the last laugh.

For now, here’s a couple stories on Hickey:

Seattle Times
Hockey’s Future

I’ll do my best to recap the Kings’ picks as they happen tomorrow…

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  • Fletch

    I admit I too was shocked at the party (along with everyone else there). But, the entire draft is, as always, a crapshoot. Remember Aki Berg? I rest my case.

    Oh, and Rich – the ending of the series finale of Sopranos was BRILLIANT. Hopefully this move by DL will turn out to be the same.

    Keep up the great work, and thanks for all the reporting you did today….you really went above and beyond, especially considering how crazy it was over there.

  • Scott

    Hey, no one give away the ending. We watch it on DVD, not live!

    I am expecting Dean to make it up to us tomorrow.

  • BallPointHammer

    After reading up on this kid I think he sounds like a good pick. While maybe not the next best player available, he will hopefully turn out to be the most valuable player available for the Kings.

    Dean Lombardi has earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt for his work so far with the Kings. Only one move really bothered me – trading for Dan Cloutier in the first place. Other than that, I am very happy and optimistic with what he has done.

    People need to remember that forty years of Kings’ hockey has been defined by the same impatience and short sightedness that some are displaying now regarding this pick. As far as the McCauleys, Thorntons, Willsies, Dallmans, Modrys, Hewards, Cloutiers, etc., etc., etc. are concerned, it seems like the transformation of the roster and depth chart from the end of 2005-06 season to the beginning of 2008-09 season will be quite dramatic and dynamic. It is a process that takes time and is not always smooth.

    Also, Rich, your coverage of the Kings is awesome. Your blog is the first hockey site I go to every time I get on the computer. Thanks!

  • Jim

    Thank you Rich for the superb coverage of the Kings. I appreciate your effort!

  • Marc Nathan

    Sorry Rich, I don’t buy it. It was TERRIBLE asset management. I don’t care that Hickey was the guy he wanted. This was the highest the Kings had drafted in quite some time, and really the whole reason Lombardi was able to assuage the fans for all the suffering that was endured during the Cloutier/Beachball era (you know… the one where the TV chyron could say “Kings are 0-10-0 when Cloutier gives up a goal on the first shot of the game”)

    The nonsense about a team saying they would have taken Hickey in the 10th spot doesn’t mean he was the guy you take in the 4th spot, and this is a GM who has not been afraid to get creative with a deal.

    A couple of other points:

    1. If you were Lubomir Visnovsky, and you were watching this bizarre pick unfold on television, you’d pretty much know that you were watching the front office choose your potential successor (over time.) Whether this will or will not impact the re-signing is debatable, and certainly the Timonen money has probably become a bigger issue, but I would raise an eyebrow if I were him.

    2. With all the talk on the television and on XM about teams perhaps following the Ducks model of getting bigger and “tougher to play against,” it was interesting to see San Jose, who entered the day without a first round pick, come out with two, and the second one they used on a guy who looks by all rights to be a guy who is just going to hammer all the Mike Cammalleris and Patrick O’Sullivans of the world (read: division) for years to come (Petrecki) — and that guy was ranked a hell of a lot higher than Hickey by ALL reports. I guess the Kings scouts didn’t watch or regard the video on this kid. He hits like a damn truck!

    P.S. Sorry… I thought the Sopranos ending was BRILLIANT.

  • CBGB

    Okay… the GM Dean MAY know well is Rutherford in Carolina since they have a long history regarding the Jack Johnson trade.

    10. Florida
    Took D-Ellerby – would they have taken Hickey? Possibly. But its hard to pass up a kid 6’4

    11. Carolina
    took Sutter – Is Hickey > Sutter? Up for debate but they MAY have taken him.

    12. Montreal
    Considering they passed on Esposito and grabbed the 30th ranked pick, they too may have had Hickey on their radar.

    13. St Louis
    They drafted the 35th ranked player, so they too MAY have had their eye on Hickey.

    But to pass on Voracek?

    Time will tell I guess.

    Rich, thanks for your continued updates.

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