Finally got around to listening to a copy of the interviews done yesterday on 570-AM by Lombardi and Crawford. Thanks to reader Mike for providing easy links, and thanks to the person who posted the audio. I transcribed a few interesting parts of Lombardi’s interview, and I’ll get to Crawford’s interview after dinner. (By the way, Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there). Lombardi didn’t say anything groundbreaking, which shouldn’t come as a surprise just five days before the draft. But here’s a couple of the interesting areas he covered. Listening to that just reinforced my thought that the Kings might look to deal that No. 4 pick, IF the right circumstances were in place.
Lombardi also got into the free-agent situation and indicated that the Kings would be interested in two of the “builders,” as he called them, top-level free agents who will be around to help the team when it’s ready to contend. If I’m a betting man, my guess is Lombardi’s wish list includes one defenseman and one forward. As July 1 gets closer, we can talk about what names might be on that list.
Here’s some of what Dean said:
On the premise that this is a weak draft at the top: “I don’t look at it as a weak draft, and remember, those picks can be used to move around.”
On what position he might target in the draft: “Its a cliche, but its still `get the best player. Particularly in our game, when youre drafting 18-year-olds, if you try to get cute and draft by position, youre going to be in trouble, because by the time that kid is ready… For an 18-year-old, you clearly take the best player.”
Dean’s opinion of a couple of the top available prospects… first, Patrick Kane: “Really talented. The one thing is how elusive he can be with his skating. Youre talking about a guy who can go east and west and turn on a dime. Hes really competitive and my guess is hes probably the No. 1 pick.”
Next, James vanRiemsdyk: “Van Riemsdyk is a really big kid, I dont think he understands yet how good he can become. Hes as big as a power forward. I dont think he has learned to play power forward yet but he almost has the skills of a small man. Hes got the potential to be the whole package.”
Next, Kyle Turris: “Turris, hes going to go to Wisconsin. Smart player, understands the game. Hes got the leadership ability. I think he probably projects as a good No. 2. Hes a guy whos going to play in your top six, but he has also demonstrated tremendous character. Hes a real skinny kid right now. He needs to fill out so I think two years of college will do him good.”
Next, Jakub Voracek: “Hes kind of interesting. This kids got a lot of talent. He was kind of a little bit of in and out this year. He really played well in the first round of the playoffs and then kind of tailed off a bit. Hes going to fill out. Hes a powerful skater and hes got some tools, so Im not sure if he projects in the top three but I think hes a guy you can probably put in your top six.”
Finally, Alexei Cherepanov: “Really a horse whos got a lot of ability. Hes at times been a highlight film. I wouldnt say its in the Ovechkin or Kovalchuk category but hes got a lot of tools. The one problem you have there now is the rules in the Russian federation and the fact that the Russians are paying huge dollars to keep their players. As good as he is, he throws a bit of a monkey wrench into the analysis because one, you have to sign him or he becomes a free agent after a couple years and two, even if he does want to come over youve got Russian teams over there paying three million dollars, tax free. In terms of the player, if he was an American or a Canadian, he would probably be mentioned for the number one pick, but its a hard one to gauge right now.”
On the free-agent market: “We’re going to be a player, but we’re going to be a player for the right player and the right price. … When you go into free agency, you’ve got fillers, you’ve got bridges and you’ve got guys you build with. I’m hoping to get one or two guys you can build with, and what I mean by that is a guy that can be here when in fact those young players start to come through the lineup and can still be a part of a contender. Then you’ve got your bridges, that help the young players that you’ve got become better players, then your fillers might just be one-year deals. … What I’d really be happy with is getting one or two guys who might be builders. … It’s got to be the right player and the right price.”
On the challenges of winning with a young team: “When you’re a good team, it’s easier to break in the young players because you’re not expecting them to get it done. There’s not that pressure on them, so when they rise it’s like a bonus. … The problem you have is with the old Islander mode, where they played at their kids at once and then they lost confidence and had to be traded. That’s the struggle here. You want to have that core, and then when the kids come up you can put them in a safe role and then if they’re ready to produce, great, but if they’re not, they’re still learning and gaining experience from guys that are winners. New Jersey was notorious for that. They could bring kids in when the spotlight wasn’t on them and they could rise on their own volition. That gets harder when theres 30 teams out there, when theres a cap out there, but to me thats the ideal scenario.”
That’s all for now. I’ll break down Crawford a bit later. Any thoughts?