In preparation for an LAKings.com feature I’m writing today, I withheld several quotes from Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yannetti on Valentin Zykov’s personality, which we caught a glimpse of during the draft on Sunday.
Until that feature goes live tomorrow, here are several Yannetti observations on Zykov, and what needs to accompany “size” for players to find success in the National Hockey League.
On Valentin Zykov complementing size with the ability to work in tough areas of the ice:
“You said it perfectly there. I mean, he’s talented. He got 40 goals as a first-year player in the Quebec League coming from another culture. He can shoot, he can skate, he’s got skill, and as you said, he’s not afraid to be to a puck first. And he’s smart enough to get to a puck second without making it look like he’s getting to a puck second, and he never does it. So there were a couple games where the offense wasn’t going for him, and he found other ways to contribute and other ways to help the team. We often talk about players with a back-up game. His primary game, obviously, we hope, is as an F-6. But, if for some reason he doesn’t somehow measure up to his full potential, you have a valuable player in terms of an F-7 to an F-9. I mean, he’s got attributes that if his primary game becomes secondary, these are attributes that help us win.”
On whether the team attempts to draft for “size”, or simply selects the best player available:
“Listen, we all want big guys. But I think – and I think it has been a trend in the NHL – that size for size sake, I think is a huge mistake. I think a lot of times when the scouting community, myself, our staff included, can get enamored for size for size sake, and I thnk you have to be real careful with that because as we’ve seen in the past big teams don’t necessarily win. But heavy teams win. We don’t have a whole lot of big players on our team that are filler. They play hard. They contribute. They protect the puck. Everyone on our team protects the puck. Everyone on our team has ability. (Justin) Auger, in that vein, isn’t close to where he needs to be yet. But he shows the flashes and the ability and the will to use those things to play, which at 6-foot-6 now will allow him to develop into the kind of player where his size is not the only thing you’re looking at. Right now it’s the main attribute.”