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