Lou Lamoriello: “Can’t overestimate the value of the knowledge and the expertise of Mark Hunter in this draft”

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Transcript below of Lou Lamoriello’s conference call discussing the trade with San Jose that sent Nick Spaling and Roman Polak to the Sharks in exchange for two second round picks and Raffi Torres.



An early morning trade. How did this one come together?

Lou Lamoriello: Well, like every other trade. Like we spoke the other day, timing is everything. Certainly we were having discussions and it came about last night where it got finalized and, really, totally finalized earlier this morning.

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Do you have any immediate plans now to call up someone from the Marlies?

Lamoriello: Yes, we will be calling up Percy and Leipsic.

You guys have 12 picks now heading into the 2016 Draft. Has these couple of trades, stockpiling these draft picks, been just as important as the players you’ve gotten in these trades?

Lamoriello: Well, I think the picks are the most important thing that we’ve gotten in these transactions. I think that we’ll see what the players bring from now until the end of the year, but the picks are the most important as far as giving us an opportunity depending upon where we’re at. With these two being pushed out in two years, they can also be used at a later time to acquire a player if need be, or to select in the entry draft.

Is there some thought to getting in front of the market and making these trades now as opposed to the final hours before the deadline?

Lamoriello: I’ve never believed that you wait to the final minute. If you can make something you’re comfortable with and not worry about what other people are doing, or thinking, then you should do it. Sometimes it can’t happen until the end because it still takes two people to make a decision to have a transaction, but I always felt that if you can do it a little early you better. But I’ve been in it until the last minute, right up until two minutes before 3 p.m. I’ve seen both kinds of it. It depends upon what the partner’s situation is.

How much interest was there in Polak and tell us what kind of influence he had on the team in your opinion?

Lamoriello: First of all, Roman, there’s no question what his characteristics are. He’s a man; he’s a player’s player. He competes each and every night. He’s somebody that you’d go in a foxhole with at any given time. He knows what we think of him. He certainly understands what we’re trying to do here with reference to the plan that’s in place. I just can’t say enough about him as a person and also what he’s brought to that lineup.

Was there much interest in him, Lou?

Lamoriello: Hopefully there’s interest in every player.

In regard to the 12 picks you have in the 2016 Draft, do you envision a scenario where you guys use all those picks or would you be in the mood to maybe move some of them for picks down the road or current NHL players?

Lamoriello: I don’t think that’s a question I can answer right now because if that opportunity was there that we thought made us better, we would have already done that. But usually those type of things happen at the draft, when you see where different players are aligned as far as where they’re picked or not picked. Those are draft table situations. To answer your question, I think you do anything you feel is going to fit within what the plan is — and that’s an overused word right now — [and with] the process we’re trying to create. So anything can happen. There’s nothing in cement that’s saying this won’t happen or this will happen.

As you look to make more trades involving roster players, how do you weigh it knowing you might be weakening the Marlies with the call-ups of some of the kids?

Lamoriello: Well, we certainly are not trying to weaken the Marlies. This has always been our thought process as far as timing to get the Marlies in here at a certain time. We wanted them to stay together for the majority of the season, but I don’t think it will weaken our position whatsoever. Certainly only time will tell, but it’s up to us to make sure that’s monitored very closely because we want them to have success.

How have you seen Leipsic’s development this season so far?

Lamoriello: There’s no question with him, given the opportunity, we’ve seen his development coming. He made the most of a timing situation when he was called up and then came right back when he went to the minors and didn’t miss a beat. But we could have called other players up also and been very comfortable. When the time is right, you’ll see other people here.

When you were in Jersey, you really relied a lot on David Conte for replenishing you with prospects and how those draft picks translated into players. Can you talk about, given the cache of picks you’re accruing, what the importance of Mark Hunter is going to be moving forward in this process?

Lamoriello: I don’t think I could overestimate the value of the knowledge and the expertise of Mark Hunter in his position in this draft. Total, total comfortability. As you said, I was fortunate to have David Conte for a number of years over there. Both have tremendous similarities as far as being at the rink each and every day, seeing games and having knowledge. Mark is certainly that. In the brief time that I have been here, and one of the first individuals that I spent time with because of how important he was, I’m impressed more and more with him and totally comfortable with him having these picks in his hands. I think the Maple Leafs fans should feel comfortable also. I know our whole staff is, throughout the Marlies, throughout the scouts — as far as their respect for him — and the coaching staff. He’s straightforward. There’s no grey area and he knows what he’s doing.

What is the logic with leaving Raffi Torres with the Sharks organization and keeping Matt Frattin with the Marlies?

Lamoriello: I think it’s simplistic. I think we’re extremely comfortable with the people we have in the Marlies, and I don’t think a veteran going into the Marlies right now is the right thing. That’s nothing against Raffi, I think the chemistry there is perfect and, once again, it has nothing to do with the individual. I do not know him personally. I just felt that this was a transaction that was part of what we were trying to accomplish and I don’t think that there is a role for him right now. He is certainly not playing ready for the NHL. In our opinion, my opinion specifically, it was part of the transaction that he would remain in the minor league team in San Jose.

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