At this time last year, fresh on the heels of taking over as LA Kings General Manager just two months prior, Rob Blake was pretty transparent heading into the 2017 NHL Draft – it was largely Mark Yannetti’s show to run. Fast forward one year, and I checked in with both guys to see how their relationship has evolved heading into this year’s event in Dallas.
“I think there’s been much more conversations in the type of movement in the draft, and probably for me, understanding that – where you put players, whether you move up or move back and acquire picks,” began Blake. “We’ve done a lot more research on the percentages of different picks, the points-per-game in different rounds, but more of that as a group. I think last year, taking this job early in the summer and prior to the draft, there were so many other things to cover. I was very confident in Mark and his staff in what they did. I think it’s been much more involved, together, the last few months at the list; identifying certain needs and looking at players throughout the rounds.”
On if anticipates offering more input this year of if it is still largely Yannetti’s show to run:
“They’re the ones who view these guys on an ongoing basis, and they have the best – I think the communication has increased in the direction of the team and what we want to accomplish at the draft. You look at the organization as a whole, some of the needs, we filled a lot of needs with free agents, but there are still some holes that need to be filled. I think that’s where the communication and identifying the types of players, and then obviously Mark and his staff are the ones that understand those players better than anybody here.”
As part of a separate conversation, I asked for Yannetti’s thoughts on working with Blake and how, if it all, it differs from one year ago.
“He was certainly very kind in what he said last year. Yes, [this year is still] my draft to run. That being said, even last year in the infancy of our partnership, he has a philosophy – whether it’s hands-off, it’s still his team. I recognize that. I respect the fact that he allows me to give my input and have the say I do. It’s also a two-way street. He was hands-off because he didn’t know the players as well. Yet he still had a definitive philosophy – not unlike Dean [Lombardi] when I first started working with him. Rob had a clear philosophy. I try to run the draft with our implementation of his philosophy. It’s just like our development staff and our coaching. We want give guys players that we know will succeed. Nelson Emerson, Glen Murray, and Mike O’Connell have shown what they can do with certain guys. It’s not unlike what Rob is thinking. He wants the team to play a certain way; he wants a certain style of player. We try to fit that into the framework of how we scout. This year is just more a culmination of that. Instead of having a month to work on it with Rob, we’ve worked on it periodically throughout the year, with meetings up until last week. We have another meeting this week on Thursday for our final prep. It’s just more of a free-flow of information. It’s not hard to work for someone with clear direction. And it’s not hard to implement that in the draft.”
Yannetti also shared some thoughts on what the Kings might do with their first round pick this Friday, which can be found here.
Additionally, there are two key posts you’ll want to review in preparation for the draft:
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