Lombardi, Part 2

In this part, Dean talks about the upcoming draft, particularly in terms of the changes that have taken place with the scouting staff and the way the Kings will approach their pick (No. 4 overall).

To answer a couple questions from the last one…you’ll see below that Dean is indeed entertaining the idea of trading the pick, although I believe he will ultimately keep it. Also, someone pointed out that Marek’s size could be an asset in the “new NHL,” and Dean actually references this later, when I ask him about Brady Murray. Finally, the subject of Brian Boyle came up. Dean gave a long, detailed answer about the fact that the Kings have yet to decide whether Boyle would be better as a forward or a defenseman. You’ll read more about that in a couple days.

OK, so here’s more of the Dean interivew:

(With the draft coming up, I imagine your role is going to be quite different than last year…)
More, but still not the level that I want. It’s getting closer, but we’ll be so much better in the future. It just takes time. Next year, in terms of the way we do it, it will be better, but we’ll get a good player.

(After the in-season shakeup, how close are you to getting the scouting staff where you want it?)
After this draft, we’ll finally have it where we want it. We’re close to hiring another key guy. The group, they’re really hard-working and they’re adapting. Once we hit the ground after this draft, we will hit the ground running. It doesn’t mean we won’t do a good job in this draft, but there is a standard that you have to meet and we’re still not quite there. By this time next year, we will be there.

(With the Kings holding the fourth pick, do you already have a pretty good idea of who will be there?)
Oh yeah. You do that all year. We fell to four, but we’ll be fine. We’ve got some meetings coming up, and the next step is figuring out if we want to move [trade the pick]. So it’s not only putting together a list of the top guys. The key part is to look at the prospect of moving down. I think everybody in hockey knows where they upper layer (of players) is. Whether it’s three (players) or five or seven, that’s open for debate, but I think we’re fine where we’re sitting. It’s still an issue though. A draft spot, it’s an asset, and you have to maximize the slot, and part of maximizing the spot is that maybe you move down and make a swap. That takes a lot of time. That’s also about training your staff to think the right way. By the second year in San Jose with the same group, we had gotten pretty good at it, and we were moving up, down and all around. But the premise was to get the most from that slot. It was either to take a player or move and get more players.

(The whole problem with Russia and the transfer agreement, does that complicate things?)
It does. There’s the fact that they make a lot of money over there. They can make $2.5- or $3-million tax-free. That’s one of the things with Marek right now. He can make more money over there right now and not have to play 80 games and not have to move across the ocean. It’s not a money issue, because you can only pay so much under the cap. So it’s not like you’re bidding against the Russians. You can only pay so much, and the Russians don’t have any limit. So that impacts (the players’) willingness to come over. You used to hear players say, `I want to play in the best league in the world.’ I’m sure a lot of them meant it, but the other thing is that they could make a lot more money. It’s like (Aleksey Morozov, who left the NHL to play in Russia). Does Morozov play over there, and not over here, if he’s not making $3 million a year tax free? Probably not. That would never have happened 10 years ago, because the Russians couldn’t pay him $3 million. So it does impact it. Then you’ve got the issue of how they can become unrestricted. You can draft a guy, and if he sits it out and earns his money over there, after three years you don’t have the rights to him. So yeah, it does enter it, more than anything ever did in the past.

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