Here’s what Dean Lombardi had to say tonight after the first round of the draft, and after the Kings selected defenseman Derek Forbert at No. 15. The Kings enter tomorrow with seven picks, but you never know what might happen. The draft resumes at 10 a.m., and I’ll be hosting a chat at that time, so please drop in and see how the draft is going. Here’s the interview with Lombardi…
Question: Can you talk about the decision to move up and take Forbort where you did?
LOMBARDI: “The draft shotgunned pretty fast. He was next on our list and we didn’t think he would get to us (at No. 19) and he was pretty well separated from what we thought we would be able to get at our pick. Before the draft, you always think about that value analysis. `Would you give up this and this in order to get this?’ Clearly this guy was in that layer where we would say, `OK, we’ll pay for it.’ So I was trying to pay for it. I had tried to move up about three or four picks before, and then finally I got it. He was the last player left who was in that bracket. If he wasn’t there, it wasn’t going to happen. It just all goes into valuing the slot. That’s how it’s done.”
Question: It seemed like kind of an unusual first round, with guys dropping all over the place…
LOMBARDI: “That’s what was happening. In some ways, it was predictable. The two top guys were there. I kind of describe it like a slope. Sometimes you get guys on (one plateau) and then (a lower plateau). This draft had two guys, and then the slope didn’t come down very quickly. It kind of stayed up. So when you hear people say, `Hey, that guy was fifth on my list and I got him at 20,’ that’s very predictable. That’s what you saw here. It was just kind of question of where you take your guys. They’re all good players. Some people just like some players more than others. It’s kind of a deep draft, but it’s not deep in the sense of the Getzlaf draft. That draft was deep where you were going to get (top players) in the middle rounds. It’s not that kind of deep, but they’re still good players.”
Question: What was it that you liked about Forbort?
LOMBARDI: “He’s going to a great program. As you can see, he’s clearly raw. He’s young. But when you get a defenseman that size, with that type of range, there’s a lot of upside. Like I said, we like where he’s going to be [North Dakota]. With our reserve list, we can do that now. We can put a kid in college and let him go, as long as he’s in a good program. We’ve got our other defensemen to develop, so we can take our time with him. We’re not in that situation where you have to force guys into the lineup early. So you look at the potential upside. He’s raw in some areas, but there’s some things to work with there, when he’s got that size and that range.”
Question: He talked about having only a quick interview with the Kings. Did you feel like you heard what you needed to hear?
LOMBARDI: “I’m not huge on that. I think interviews just confirm things. When you get to the interview stage, that is so programmed. Your job, your scouts’ job, is to get down there during the season and get to know him and the coaches. Those interviews are really dangerous, because by that time you’ve had kids go through 25 interviews and they become scripted. It’s more about the work done by your regional (scout), to get down there and find out about this guy. Obviously, we had some inside knowledge in terms of the guy in that area. Tony Gasparini, his dad was the legendary coach there at North Dakota, so we were connected there in terms of the type of kids they pick. North Dakota is like USC. They get good players, the right players.”
Question: You mentioned trying to move up earlier. Was the price just too high?
LOMBARDI: “No. Sometimes you can’t even get a price. Sometimes you zero in on a guy, and particularly on draft day, picks have more value. At the trade deadline, we throw them around like nickels. Then on draft day, it’s almost like we hold them like gold. The other thing that happens is, you have scouts out there the whole year, and this is kind of like their day, so maybe you’re hesitant not to give them a guy they’ve zeroed in on. Only from about four picks ahead of him were people even considering it. Then, right before the pick, they go, `Ah, we’re taking it.’ Then you just keep working back.”
Question: Was he the highest player on your list in that area?
LOMBARDI: “Well, obviously he was higher on our list than a lot of other people. You see that happen. I’m pretty sure Anaheim was surprised Fowler was there. But again, that’s what can happen. But yeah, obviously he was, or we wouldn’t get that aggressive and try to move up. The guys who were around there, they were falling [getting picked], and if he goes, then we stop, and we probably move back. I had some deals to move back. Quite frankly, when we got to (pick) 10, I thought we were going back. Then it goes the other way.”
Question: Is tomorrow still about picking the best player available, or do you look more at forwards?
LOMBARDI: “It’s still the best player available. If they’re tied, then I’ll trend toward forwards. Then again, I could make one deal at some point and then it’s, `Boom, it’s a good thing we’ve got extra defensemen.’ Tomorrow is usually when you get a little more movement, in terms of people wanting picks and things.”