With the NHL Trade Deadline now behind us, Kings GM Dean Lombardi was made available for questions earlier today. Among the many things discussed was the actual process he went through in acquiring defenseman Robyn Regehr, possible trades for an additional forward, Willie Mitchell’s injury, the development of key prospects, plans for the 2013 NHL Draft and much more. His full quotes will be published over a series of articles. In the section below he talks about what he wanted to accomplish prior to the deadline passing…
Question: Was today pretty quiet considering you made deals the last couple of days or did some other things heat up this morning?
Answer: “I don’t think there’s anything, we like our team. It’s just filling those two holes. And I think I’ve said this, too, a couple of times here, the hardest part about this wasn’t the player trade, it’s making sure we keep this group together. I think I’ve made it clear numerous times that the way this cap is coming down now next year, when we have six young players up for contract causes to be a physics project. Of the players I looked at in making this deal, I spent way more time evaluating our cap and keeping this group together that I actually did evaluate the player and that’s not taking anything away from the work on the player. But we knew were going to get to this point some day and you’ve said it time and time again, build slowly with young players in the thought of keeping them together. This CBA really hurt in terms of us having to adjust because we certainly didn’t plan any dramatic decrease and then like I said we have 6 million in space we brought this team back, we can’t use. Everything we did, in the last two weeks, we’ve got more physics projects going on the board than MIT in terms of trying to figure out how to make sure we keep our own.
“That certainly also had an impact on your market, too, so you’re balancing the players and then you say “wait a minute, you don’t want to get in a situation where okay, I’m paying this to get the player but then I’m going to pay another tax in the summer because I can’t keep another player, so actually your price could increase dramatically if you aren’t cognisant of that.” And that’s why I think that’s the other reason this is a really good fit for us. I think with Robyn, clearly that element he brings is something that we needed to add to the mix and I think you put Greener [Matt Greene] back in his lineup, now you have that mix of puck moving and hard to play against. He’s a great fit from that. Hopefully, I think there’s a good chance that we can retain him and I think we have a lot going for us. This wasn’t looked at as just a player for a rental, we’re looking at this as a guy that can fit with us for a number of years here. But it still had to work for us in terms of the whole. I think you know this group. Through the process at times you get frustrated but there’s no question they care about each other. Time and time again I’ve seen them the way they stick together through tough times and you want to do everything you can to let them go together.
“I think you’ve heard me talk about culture, and quite frankly this has always been in the back of my mind, first you need stability and continuity, then you get an identity and then you have culture. But if you don’t have the first one you’re not going to get the culture, and culture takes time. And the only way you’re going to do it is to keep a bunch of good players that care about each other, learn through the ups and downs, and learn to win. That’s a culture. And it’s not going to happen in one year, it’s a process, just like we’re just starting to get an identity now. There’s another step here and if I have to start pulling guys out of that room and you take away the stability and continuity you back the whole thing up. And that was very much in the back of my mind, there’s an emotional bond and step that we need to take as a franchise. And if I start ripping the guts out of it and start getting away from continuity we’re never going to get there and you’re going to end up like everything else, you get mediocrity, back to 500, and constant changes. We’ll you’ll never get with culture if that’s going on. I think I’ve been consistent with that, it’s the first year, I’ve really phased it down to really trying to improve the team and keep them together. But it’s always in the back of my mind so when I talk about this deal it’s very not much just about the player its this other thing in the back of my mind and it’s very important I think.”
Question: Was the evaluation part (on Regehr) easier because of Sutter’s relationship with him?
Answer: “Well what you get there now is just like with [Jeff] Carter and [Mike] Richards, at times you do you’re digging to find out about a player, but we don’t have to do that. This guy’s character is off the charts. He’s no picnic to play against. And the other thing you know from your own locker room that in the end the players know. I think this is a guy you’d rather have on your side than have to play against him. We’re blessed with some obviously really good young defensemen and the way [Jake] Muzzin’s come on, but we still need that element that guys like Robyn and Greener and Willie Mitchell bring.”
Question: Was he was close on making any other trades prior to the deadline?
Answer: “No. I like our team, and I think we addressed our biggest need. And you see Matt Greene in there – we get him back, that’s like getting a player for nothing now. I didn’t see anything that was really going to improve us. Our depth up front with Toffoli and Brad Richardson, we forget about him, but he’s shown he’s a good depth player. So it wasn’t really anything there that made sense as terms of an upgrade, let alone then get to the part where if you upgrade, what’s it going to do to your cap and everything else. The other thing we were able to do on this that I really liked – and you know I’m confident in how I feel about this – we’ve got 10 picks in this year’s draft. You never want to lose sight of that part. Now, we don’t have a first rounder, but we’re going into this, we were able to keep this nucleus, get this piece here, and have 10 picks going in next year’s draft. Our eye going forward, we haven’t sold the farm by any stretch. I think we’ve got the space to keep our young players. Then hopefully…add the right veterans here going forward also. Now it’s up to our scouts to hit in the middle rounds. I mean, we’ve got a lot of swings in there, so we’ll keep the supply line going. But that’s the other thing, too – like, you underestimate those picks coming up overall. So, OK, you get Regehr, and you know the fifth rounder for Drewiske because you’ve got the depth. And then you look at your list, and we’ve got three fourths, two fifths, two sevenths. We’re in good shape there, and that’s unusual for a team coming off the success we had last year. Generally you’ve got to empty the store a little more. So ,I think we’re in pretty decent shape.”
Believe it or not, we still have plenty more from today’s chat with Lombardi that we’ll be posting within the hour. In the meantime, make sure you’re caught up with some of his other thoughts…
Dean Lombardi on the possibility of a contract extension for Rob Scuderi
Lombardi on the Robyn Regehr acquisition – why now, the price he paid, much more
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