Lombardi: A roll of the dice

Question: You’ve built up quite a stable of young talent, particularly on the back end, and a lot of draft picks. You know you’re not going to be able to keep all of these guys forever. What’s the process like of determining who your “must-keep” players are? Is most of it scouting? Is some of it just guess-work?

LOMBARDI: “It’s a lot more fun than being where I was 24 months ago, I can tell you that. It’s a nice process to have. What’s that process like? Again, you never know. You do the first part, and determine which boxes you need to fill and what you need. You’re always evaluating. You have guys you talk about, who you know you won’t trade.

“What good teams do when they make deals, and this is why you don’t see a lot of deals right now, it’s hard to fill a hole and not create a hole. That’s why you don’t see a lot of trades, because there are a lot of issues with the cap and cash. It still comes down to making a good deal, but not a lot of teams can do that.

“One thing that happens is, when a team trades a guy, and they know he has value as an established NHL player, they have a guy ready to go into that hole and fill that hole. They don’t miss a beat. That would fit into our process. `OK, we move this guy, but we have a guy in Manchester who we know is ready.’ That way, you improve your team without creating a hole. But to answer your question, do I know which guy (to trade)? No.”

Question: So you don’t know. You’re never certain.

LOMBARDI: “No, you never know for sure. And it does depend on this kids in the minors and in junior. We’re evaluating, every day. It’s totally different than being Detroit. You don’t have a lot to evaluate there. It’s there in front of you, and you make your deal at the deadline and you’re done. I’d love to be in that situation, and just win and get rings. But that was built up over the years.

“With Hickey, (scout) Mike Donnelly goes up there for three weeks. `Where is Hickey at? Is his learning curve going up?’ Same thing with the guys in the minors. `Is Voynov going to be as good as we think he is?’ Campbell has now hit a wall, which is normal for a young, junior kid who is 18 years old. `When’s he coming back? How far away is he?’ Who would have though Drewiske would come up here and show that much poise? The kid did pretty darn good, for a short spin up here. Would I have been able to tell you that two weeks ago? No way.

“It’s so much analogous to baseball. You read their minor-league reports in Baseball America and you see teams with a lot of pitching in their systems. Watch what those guys do, who have a lot of pitching. A lot of times, that’s their philosophy. You can’t have too much pitching in your system. You don’t want to lose guys for nothing, but that’s the other thing about going slowly now, and not having to force the kids to play too early. I’m not thrilled about having to play Simmonds and Moller, but part of it was that we just didn’t have a lot. You can slow that process down, in terms of making sure you don’t accelerate the waiver exposure and things like that, and I think we’re in that position now. It’s the same thing with the goalies.

“We have three or four goalies. Which one is going to respond? I don’t know. It might be Zatkoff. It might be the kid we’ve got in Calgary, (Martin) Jones. But the point is, you’ve got the swings now. They’re legitimate shots, versus Fukufuji and Patrik Hersley. You had no shot.”

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  • Bring Back the Shield Jersey

    There’s a bit of irony in DL’s words. He talks about player evaluation, how they’re doing, how will they do etc., then goes on to say that no way would he have been able to tell you how good Drewiske would play in the NHL.

    So you’ve got to seriously question their ability to evaluate talent. Seriously.

  • brianguy

    fun? winning is fun

    it might be fun to draft a whole bunch of guys but there’s only so much fun we fans can get out of that. we don’t even get to see those guys: Loktionov, Teubert etc with the exception of Doughty

  • Alley

    I like how Rich is posting every 45 minutes, right on the dot. It’s helping me maintain a 75% efficiency rate at work. =P

  • Anonymous

    Of course you’ve got to question their ability to evaluate talent. Hell, you’ve also got to seriously question Detroit’s ability to evaluate talent. They let Kyle Quincey fall victim to a numbers game!

    No scouting staff can successfully predict the future 100% of the time.

  • brianguy

    ditto

  • Undertakr

    Thank god you ‘fans’ aren’t GM’s and aren’t anywhere near the organization because half of the comments I’ve read today are clueless.

    You can’t evaluate a player based on their NHL skill until they are in the NHL! You judge them based upon their skill at their current level and evaluate their potential upside.

    To say DL and his team doesn’t know what they’re doing is ridiculous when you have Simmonds, Ersberg, Moller, Sully, Doughty, JMFJ, Drewiske, Quick and a couple others all showing NHL skills when they were brought up. Whether they drafted them or not, they evaluated the players skill and determined they could succeed in the NHL and they were correct.

    He’s absolutely right that Kopi isn’t a #1 and you can answer that simply by asking, “Do you play Datsyuk or Kopi?” Is Kopi on the level of Ovechkin or Crosby or Malkin or Thornton? No he isn’t. Could he be? Absolutely! And he’s young and probably will be as good as those guys or at least close to it.

    Have you seen the same Kings as I’ve seen this year? This team has gone from a ton of scrubs to an insane amount of potential in the youngest team in the league. Our goaltending is finally good with 2-3 more prospects tearing it up in minors, we have arguably the best long-term defense in the league with JMFJ and Doughty being true #1′s of the future and PP quarterback and shooter from hell together. Our forwards are growing by leaps and bounds this year and the team doesn’t quit.

    Are they playoff ready? Probably not, but they have tons of cap space to add the players we need to get there without tearing apart the team to do it.

    In DL we trust!

  • Ciccarelli

    Thanks for pointing that out. So next post in 2 minutes?

  • TeamHasHoles

    So you’ve got to seriously question their ability to evaluate talent. Seriously.

    Really BBSJ? I mean, ask Ken Holland if he knew Kyle Quincey was going to be in the top-11 defensemen in the NHL in assists before he waived him (only 5 assists behind #4 in the league)?

    I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be critical of Ken Holland’s ability to judge talent and he sure didn’t get anything for that guy. Every GM in the NHL will tell you the same thing Lombardi just told you about not knowing what you have until they get out on the NHL ice.

    Your comment is ridiculous, unfair and barely deserved the response I gave it.

  • Gary Livingston

    I don’t see it as irony. I see it as honesty.

    They have an idea, a much better idea than we do, about how well they would do in the NHL. What they can’t expect is how well the players will live up to that expectation or disappoint.

    A lot changes when a player in is a new situation. Whether it is moving up to the NHL or joining a new team. Many factors that few of us even begin to consider their power in changing the outcome of a player’s future.

    Dean is just coming clean and being honest about what one can expect based upon their evaluations. Just like a weather man can declare it will rain, it is never for sure where exactly and when exactly it will fall.

  • Quisp

    BBTSJ, re “evaluating talent”:

    I second what Team Has Holes said (although OF COURSE I don’t condone any remotely insulting language — e.g. “ridiculous” — insert smiley face…).

    DL is saying two things here. (1) You never know. You might think you know, but you don’t. You never, ever really know. (2) He’s just being humble. What’s he going to say, “Lo! Who but the great Lombardi could have made such a move!” ?

  • Anonymous

    I am glad he recognized Drewiske for what was 5 real solid games against big time teams.

  • tantrum4

    I second the request from the last post for an ignore button…I can think of 3 people I would love to never have to read from again….

  • Marc Nathan

    I know it was probably out of context, but Dean… Patrick Hersley… never a goaltender :)

  • TeamHasHoles

    I second what Team Has Holes said (although OF COURSE I don’t condone any remotely insulting language — e.g. “ridiculous” — insert smiley face…).

    Sorry Quisp, I’m just sick of a lot of the negativity I read here. As if half or most of the people that post here knows what it takes to build a perennial Stanley Cup contender.

    They’ve never seen one in this town, but somehow they know more than the man largely responsible for developing the team that has won the Pacific Division 4 of the last 7 years including this season.

  • Eric K

    BBSJ: I think when it comes down to it, there really is a huge element of luck. it’s just that the best GMs and scouting teams are wrong the least amount of times. when a 3rd-rounder becomes a bona fide starting goalie (Quick), it could be luck, or it could be a shrewd maneuver. just the same, if a high-mid first rounder tanks (Tukonen), it could be bad luck, or simply a case of not properly evaluating talent.

    Did you know that the Kings traded their first-round pick TWENTY TIMES in their first 27 years? yes, it was less of a gamble to get guys who already were veterans. but the kicker is that there’s no potential, no upside, and no improvement. trading future gains for known quantities doesn’t work and never did work for us (except for The Great One, of course).
    _____________________________________________________

    in contrast, here’s the first round picks for LA since ’99, the last time we went without a first round pick.

    TAYLOR
    2000: ALEXANDER FROLOV (20th overall)
    2001: Jens Karlsson (18th overall) & Dave Steckel (30th overall)
    2002: Denis Grebeshkov (20th overall)
    2003: DUSTIN BROWN (13th overall), Brian Boyle (26th overall), & Jeff Tambellini (27th overall)
    2004: Lauri Tukonen (11th overall)
    2005: ANZE KOPITAR (11th overall)

    LOMBARDI
    2006: Jonathan Bernier (11th overall) & Trevor Lewis (17th overall)
    2007: Thomas Hickey (fourth overall)
    2008: DREW DOUGHTY (second overall) & Colten Teubert (13th overall)

    There are some duds, especially in the Taylor era. but we also have three of our four “core” forwards and one of our two studly young d-men. and in between, we have guys who made it for other teams (Grebeshkov) and guys who still have legitimate chances to make it in LA (Boyle, Lewis, Bernier, Hickey, Teubert).

    (oh, and how did we get our other core forward and our other core d-man? by trading away veterans. funny…)

    every GM makes mistakes or gets things wrong. it’s natural. but the best is the one who recovers from those mistakes and makes the right moves. and DL’s doing that pretty well.

  • Sisto

    Lombardi is in a very good position to make a trade for a star shooter that can consistantly score goals and shootouts for both 1st and 2nd draft picks. The Kings have so much talent right now that they could give up those draft picks and come out a stronger team! But thsy have to get a team player that will fit and gel with the team bonding that is now going on with the team which could cement a playoff spot at the end of the season. Trading a player might shock the players and the fans at this time of the season, especially if he is important to the team’s system.

  • Bring Back the Shield Jersey

    Wow. didn’t mean to start a firestorm. I just thought it was an ironic juxtaposition of constant evaluation (3 weeks watching Hickey) and 2 paragraphs later saying how taken by surprise he was by Drewiske’s talent level. And having now read DL’s words, it makes even less sense to me why they sent Drewiske back down.

    Odd to bring up Detroit and Quincey, as it’s my understanding that two things went into us picking him up off waivers: 1, JJ getting hurt, and 2, DL having had to be talked into picking Quincey up. So it’s doubtful that without the injury, we don’t get Quincey.

    I’m no DL basher, I always vote approve on the monthly polls. He had a plan A, saw it didn’t work and went to Plan B. The fact that he thought plan A would work doesn’t speak well for him, but the fact that he quickly saw the error and moved to correct it does.

  • 28 KINGS

    “So you’ve got to seriously question their ability to evaluate talent. Seriously.”

    Like others have said, you don’t know how good a guy will be, especially a defenseman, until he’s playing in the NHL under that kind of pressure. Even the top picks, can’t miss type prospects have a bit of a question mark surrounding them until they play under the NHL spotlight.

  • Eric K

    BBSJ: Yeah, I know what you mean. I guess that’s what makes this job so hard; so much guesswork, no matter how much research you do. Look at the goalies doing better in the NHL than they did in the AHL.

    And I think we did luck out with the timing of the Quincey situation, but hey, like I said earlier, there’s major luck involved. So much of this is about seizing opportunities when you get lucky.

  • EJ

    Bring Back the Shield Jersey said:

    And having now read DL’s words, it makes even less sense to me why they sent Drewiske back down.

    It’s about managing an entire system, not just the Kings. While Drewiske showed surprising poise at even-strength and good reads on the penalty kill, there are other areas that could still use work. He needs to be stronger along the boards, and he needs to have better gap control.

    Plus he goes back to Manchester with (hopefully) a hunger to make it back to the big club. And he talks about his experience with the other prospects, and that keeps a fire lit under all of them. It helps the Monarchs to be a better club.

    Manage the system, not just the parent club or the individual.