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.”