To continue to get a firmer picture of this year’s draft, I spoke earlier today with Los Angeles Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yannetti about the process of adding a handful of new prospects to the Kings’ crop. Los Angeles is currently scheduled to select 13th, 43rd, 74th, 104th, 134th, 187th and 194th tonight and tomorrow.
On how closely the team adheres to the draft list, and if there are alterations:
We adhere to the list. That being said, there are occasionally factors that come into play in terms of adhering to the list. Let’s say a guy is 60 and 61 and they’re both forwards and they’re both very similar players, if we have a problem with age distribution or something, we could conceivably go with the college kid that going for four years rather than a junior kid. But I would never consider that jumping, that’s a guy who is back-to-back with someone. There is no case where we’re at 52 and we’d say ‘Let’s go for the 70.’ The list is made for a reason and I’ve seen it happen before, whether it’s with other teams and it’s very, almost exclusively disastrous.
On how the team ultimately decides to draft a player:
The ultimate choice is Mike [Futa] or me. Dean is the one Mike and I talk to. But in terms of the choice, to move back, whether to trade an asset, whether to stand pat, that’s 100-percent Mike and myself and it’s 50-percent Mike and 50-percent me. If you watch our table, we’ll either flank Dean on either side or we’re right next to each other, and it’s almost a constant chatter between Mike and myself because once the first round starts today, and that’s a little different because we’ve put four or five scenarios moving up and three or four scenarios moving back. I don’t think you should ever just stay, unless we’re picking second in the draft with Doughty-Stamkos and you can’t do anything. Moving back was never an option and you can’t move up. Unless it’s a situation like that, you have to move, you have to trade, you have to try to maximize what you can do otherwise you just leave it to fate, and why’d you do all the work if you’re just going to leave it to fate?
On the team’s ability to find players who have been passed over in previous drafts:
I think it’s something that we might have been the team that was earliest on that when we came in, more so because we just didn’t know any better. When that mass purge happened the first year and I took over, our staff just scrambled to see everybody, we just saw players. There was no traditional learning. There was no lineage in terms of growing up and learning the guys and ‘this is how you scout.’ So we didn’t fall into any of the traditional traps and traditional ways of thinking because – I don’t want to say wing it – we were just trying to get it done. I’d never run a staff before. When we did it that way the first year, you had Brent, you had Tony. Then when Mike came in, all of a sudden Wayne Simmonds – he brings a knowledge with Wayne Simmonds. None of us knew that you didn’t look at older players. So in terms of the success going forward … some of the other teams have been very successful with other players – you look at the Blackhawks with Shaw. A lot of guys have been good but we just don’t look at ages at all. We just look at players. If the guys a player, he’s drafted. All the sudden, you look down and ‘Oh, he’s 19.’ I’d like to say that there’s a secret formula to make ourselves look good, a secret formula we’ve created like X equals this in Dean’s mad scientist ways. It’s just happenstance.
On how the depth of this draft compares to previous draft classes:
I go back and the draft that stands out to me is the Stamkos-Doughty draft. Going into that draft, it was deep. Going into that draft, the high-end was deep. That was – you can call it an outlier or whatever – as a staff, we knew that was a generational draft. I haven’t seen a draft like that one since. In terms of high-end, now you’re getting back into another generational draft with Connor and Jack. I think this is a good, solid draft. I’m not sure it’s quite as deep as everyone says, but the high-end is very high-end and the early second category of players are very good.
On where the tiers exist in this year’s draft:
I can be general. Obviously, if we’re picking 13 and I say there’s a tier at 10, we have to get up and teams will know we have to get up. If I say we’re at 13 there’s a tier at 15, teams will know. I think there are four distinct tiers in the first round. Obviously I’m not giving away proprietary information away when I say Eichel and McDavid is a tier. But I think there are four tiers in the first round and then I think there is a chunk of similar players after that. I think there is a massive tier of players after those first four tiers that will encompass a fair amount of picks. After that, it’s hard to tell.