Here’s some more of the stuff from Lombardi from last week. We spent some time talking about what went wrong, but these are some of the things he thinks went right. In particular, three players:
“I think Johnson, in some cases, exceeded my expectations for a young defenseman. I’ve broken in a lot of young defensemen and it’s a very difficult position for a young player. I think he adapted very well. It’s clear he has to work on some things and get better. The way he performed, for a young defenseman, he’s only going to get better. You’re never sure about a guy coming out of college in a difficult position with expectations. It was better than i expected.
“The emergence of O’sullivan was a pleasant surprise. The way he’s grown up, not only on the ice but off the ice. The way he has learned to conduct himself from the summer on, maturing, i think has been incredible, from where he was 24 months ago. I’ve talked to him about how there’s still another level for him. If he can make half the improvements he’s made over the last 12 months, he’s going to be a great player.
“The emergence of Dustin Brown. A lot of people limited this guy to thinking he would be in a third-line role. He can be a top-level player if he continues to improve. I think he’s a guy who’s going to emerge, not only as a good player but as a leader.”
Lombardi also had this to say about Kopitar:
“I’ve seen too many players, after their rookie year, forget they haven’t made it. I haven’t seen that with him and that’s encouraging. Those are the things, for us, that when we’re building, are key.”