Lou Lamoriello joined TSN Overdrive to discuss today’s acquisition of Frederik Andersen and the subsequent five-year contract extension. Transcript below.
Takes us through the deal and why he was your guy and why this makes sense for you.
Lou Lamoriello: First of all, whenever you have the opportunity to acquire a goaltender who has proven to have success in the playoffs, is at the prime age, has the reputation on and off the ice that he has, and the players love playing in front of him…. I don’t know how you cannot try to acquire a goaltender like this.
You signed him to a five-year deal. Was the trade contingent on that happening?
Lamoriello: I rather not get into what the circumstances were that went into it. We are just delighted that we were able to combine the acquisition as well as the commitment that he’s given to us and we’ve given to him.
You mentioned what he’s already done. He’s not a young guy, but for goaltenders at 26 years old, a lot of them are just kind of getting into form and finding their form in the NHL. He’s always been a part of a tandem or it seems like he’s been a part of a tandem in Anaheim. In terms of sample size, how much do you think he’s shown? How much has he proven he can be a starter in this league?
Lamoriello: We feel that way or we would’ve not done this. I think that’s the best way we can respond. We’ll just have to wait and see how things go. We’re confident that he can. I went through the similar question a few years ago about a goaltender that we acquired at the draft that had never been a starter also. I’m familiar with that question, but we have confidence in him. He’s not someone that we just made an acquisition for. We’ve certainly done our homework – our staff, our goaltending coaches, everyone.
You’ve always been used to having great goaltending on the organizations that you’ve run. You had Marty, and you made a bold move in getting Cory Schneider brought in. Was it basically number one on your list as far as this offseason? To acquire somebody in that spot that you believe could be an impact guy?
Lamoriello: Without question. I think that was certainly a focus, but never at the expense of what the overall plan is. I think we all know how important it is to have, in our opinion, a number one goaltender. We feel that, when you have that, he can help the people grow in front of him without question. Freddie, in my conversations with him, knows the situation he’s coming into, wants to win, and certainly wants to be part of the process that we have here.
Andersen coming in – how does this affect the standing of Jonathan Bernier within the organization?
Lamoriello: As you all know, you need two goaltenders. We have tremendous respect for Jonathan, but we’ve acquired a 6’4 goaltender who has athleticism and right now we’re extremely comfortable with our goaltending.
You expect him and hope that he’ll have an impact on next year’s team?
Lamoriello: We do, yes.
How does quality goaltending, and the acquisition of goaltending if it improves what you had last year, potentially change the expectations going into next season?
Lamoriello: I don’t think any of our expectations will change. We’re in a process and we’ve said all along that if we had the opportunity to get better — not at the stake of just today, but get better over a period of time – that’s what we are going to do. Nothing has changed from that end of it. I don’t want anyone to get excited. We’ve just solidified, in our opinion, a position that we feel is extremely important.
What’s the next priority? When you look at your depth chart and your roster, is there another position of need that you’ll be focusing on now?
Lamoriello: Remember that we did finish 30th last year, so we have other needs.
Have you picked up on some people forgetting that you guys were the last-placed team in the league?
Lamoriello: Yes, but I think the fans, who have been tremendous and also the media, because of the job that our coaching staff has done… each and every night, our team was competitive. When you’re competitive, you have a chance to win every night because the parity in the league is what it is. But to get to the next step, and to set a foundation, you have to start somewhere. But you can’t rush it. You can’t feel that you’re there. We don’t feel that way. Today was just to keep that process going so that we can stay on that path. When you have a chance to do something like this, you do it. You don’t look back. Hopefully it helps the growth of the younger players, the younger defencemen. Confidence in this game is a big thing as each and everyone of you know. That’s what we have to help.
How did you feel about how your team played overall, throughout the whole season, from a defensive standpoint?
Lamoriello: I think the games that we were in, and had an opportunity to win each and every night — close doesn’t count in this game. It’s an indication of the system that Mike has put in and how the players have adapted to that. We have to give Mike better players and our young players have to come along. We can’t rush them. They have to be ready. Philosophically, I always believe that they’ll come up later than sooner. Too soon sometimes is not good. We’ll find all this out in training camp. We have a core of veterans up front. We have a core of defence. We have to get better. There’s no question.
How does that apply to the first overall pick? Is there any doubt that that player will be in the lineup next season?
Lamoriello: I’ve said all along that I’ve felt that there were three, and I’m sure there are going to be two or three others throughout the draft, that will play next year. I think that the three players that have sort of singled themselves out throughout the year should be given every opportunity to play. It will be up to them, certainly, but they have the ability to do so, yes.
Jimmy Vesey’s negotiation rights were traded to Buffalo. There’s always rumours at this time of year about the acquisition of negotiating rights. Where do you stand on that philosophy? The idea of acquiring a player’s rights before free agency.
Lamoriello: Right now, I have no thoughts on that. I focused all day on Freddie. I really have no thoughts on that.
But from an overall standpoint, you would be willing to do it if it was the right move?
Lamoriello: You never say never on anything. I haven’t really given it any thought.
What would you say is the most important thing for Frederik Andersen coming to Toronto? Over the last 20 years, you’ve had some great goaltending performances. You’ve kind of had some hit and miss situations with guys. Whether it’s the pressure – everyone says it’s tough playing for the Maple Leafs. What advice would you offer to him to make sure that he performs?
Lamoriello: First of all, I’ve only been here a short period of time, but what I would do is just simply sit down with him and explain to him exactly what the environment is and what I’ve experienced over the last several months coming in. Remember, he has also been accustomed to the media during the playoffs. The same media that he will see here. It’s not going to be something new to him. The only difference is he only saw it throughout the playoffs. He’ll now see it each and every game. He does have the experience with it. Now it’s a question of how it’s handled. The maturity in this young man, to me, is going to accept it very well.