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Mark Hunter and Lou Lamoriello give thoughts on 2017 Draft Weekend and their picks

Lou Lamoriello and Mark Hunter spoke to the media after day two of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, giving perspective on some of their drafted prospects and on the bigger picture for the weekend. Here’s what you need to know:

Timothy Liljegren

Lamoriello: “My take on him was the excitement in our scouting staff. He’s a right shot defenceman who has exceptional speed and handles the puck above average. The way the game is going with the speed, and the way you push the player, he’s an outstanding prospect. And that’s what he is right now, like every player drafted today.”

Eemeli Rasanen

Hunter: “A big, strong guy, that needs to develop his body yet. He’s a little inconsistent because his legs don’t carry that big body around, but he’s got a great shot, he played top pairing for Kingston, and he has huge upside on his skill level and he needs to get stronger.”

Ian Scott

Hunter: “A goalie, that played on not a great team, so his stats aren’t as good as they should be, but his technique and his size and his quickness side to side is very good.”

Lamoriello: “We took a goaltender this year who had an off year, but the talent and what we felt about him as a group, you make that decision.”

Vladislav Kara

Hunter: “A big, strong winger that plays a two-way game, that can skate and drives to the net.”

Fedor Gordeev

Hunter: “A big strong defenceman who can dunk a ball, I don’t know if that means anything, but he’s got a bomb and he can shoot a puck. He’s a big strong guy that’s got skill, he just needs to calm down and make better plays consistently on the ice.

Ryan McGregor

Hunter: “A young man that needs strength. He’s got hockey sense, he’s got skill. He didn’t have a great year last year, we’ve figured more out of him myself and their scouting staff. But I really believe that he’s got some upside and that he’s going to take off next year.”

Ryan O’Connell

Hunter: “A young man who is right out of our backyard, out of St. Andrews. He’s developed in St. Andrews, he’s going to Penticton and then he’ll be going to [Boston University]. It’s a good program in BU, and this kid’s got a good upswing. He can really skate. But we’ll be patient with him, and watch his development.”

On Leaning Towards Defencemen

Hunter: “It wasn’t really a mandate. They fell to us, and we felt it was best at that moment, so we ended up taking the defencemen. Two big guys, it seemed like there was more defence in the draft this year, and you don’t usually see right defencemen as much.  It was one of them years where there were more D, and they fell down to us.”

“Some of the kids like the Greenaway kid last year, he’s in school and he’ll take some time to develop as a hockey player, and the O’Connor kid we picked late out of St. Andrew’s College. He’s going to Penticton next year, and then four years to BU. There’s time for these young men to develop, and we all know how long it takes defencemen to develop into National Hockey League defencemen. We gotta be patient, we’ve gotta develop them, and hopefully, they improve.”

Lamoriello: “We took these defencemen, we know it’s going to take some time. Defencemen take longer than forwards do. But when you’ve got the ability to do that, to have patience with them, and you see things, you do it. We’ve got a couple of young defencemen with the Marlies, who we don’t know how close they are until we see them next year. They’ve had outstanding years. What you want to do, is continue that flow of players coming in, in all areas.”

Trade Market

Lamoriello: “First of all, you never come close to anything unless you get it done. You’re always trying to make your team better, that’s our responsibility, that’s our job. There wasn’t a transaction that took place, and right now, we just go back and get ready.”

“You, as an organization, have to determine what price you will pay for a player that you think can help you, and that weight what effects the philosophy you have, and what the future is. Every transaction you make it’s for today with tomorrow in sight.”

“Where we are as an organization, we have to make sure we’re doing that. We’ve said that right from the beginning, we’re in a process. We’re not going to try to jumpstart anything, we’re going to allow it to take its course. But if along the way we can get better, without hurting the future, we’re going to do that. And that’s going to be continued.”

Summing Up The Draft

Hunter: “I’m very happy with it, we got a goalie in the fourth that we liked, we got two defencemen in the first two picks. Generally, we filled some holes, and now it’s time for our development department to take a hold and get these young men better.

Lamoriello: “There’s no question that you’re better, because you have players that you now have as assets as well as players that you’re developing. Now, how long will it take them, but you have to be developing. As Mark’s said, he’s seen each and every one of them, plus most of our scouts have, and you feel good about that because you know the type of people we want, they know the type of players we’re looking for, so we’re better. Every team is better. It’s the same, and everybody feels really good today. But we’ve put some size and strength into the lineup, as Mark said we’ve got a goaltender that we feel really good about, and that’s all you can do at this point.”

“The more you can keep a farm system and a feeder system going, the better you’re going to be as an organization.”

  • DukesRocks

    Listening to Hunter, I get the sense they drafted a bunch of projects. Taking a wait and see if we want to sign them attitude. Sounds like a case of contract management vs taking the best player available.

    • Gary Empey

      Duke what I think you are seeing is some very astute management. While lots of others would like to describe Liljegren as the next “the superstar right-handed defenceman Leafs needed” or “the next Erik Karlsson”, our management team realizes in the Toronto market it is stupid to put that kind of pressure on an 18 year old just chosen prospect. How long would it be before some Toronto reporter would say ” He doesn’t look like Karlisson to me?” Hey even Karlsson didn’t look like Karlsson at 18. As for the rest I suppose they really are projects, after-all they didn’t crack the top 20.

    • G2

      Draft picks are mostly “projects”. Matthews, Marner, McDavid etc. are the exception. Hunter’s job is to see hockey players in the kids he drafts and he seems to be decent at it. Who would you have drafted in the sixth round and immediately signed to a contract?

  • jimbobray

    The Ryan McGregor pick was a head scratcher. He hasn’t made much progress in two years, his point totals are anemic, he’s a lightweight who gets knocked over a lot, there’s virtually nothing to latch onto. Where’s the beef? More like a vegan sandwich.