Lou Lamoriello addresses Jonathan Bernier trade, Auston Matthews’ contract situation


What in particular motivated the trade for you guys?

Lamoriello: First of all, as we all know, we made a trade earlier to get Freddie Andersen. We felt that this was the best thing for us to do, and we will acquire a backup goaltender before training camp.

Is something in the works there already?

Lamoriello: We’ll have a backup goalie before training camp.

How did Jonathan take the news when you broke it to him that he had been traded?

Lamoriello: He’s a pro. Certainly he understands why. Any time you make that type of a phone call, it’s tough. You always make a second phone call after, because when the player hears it all they are thinking about is, “what just happened?” He’s been a solid individual since the day I got here. I couldn’t feel more comfortable with him as a person and what he did for us. Right now we’ve moved on.

Auston Matthews doesn’t have a contract right now. We understand you don’t like to give performance bonuses. Why is that?

Lamoriello: First of all, I don’t think there’s anything to talk about right now with reference to Auston’s contract until it‘s done. We’ve certainly talked to the representative. I don’t think this is something that is going to take long.

Is the bottom line that it’s all about the team and that’s always been your concept through three decades in the NHL?

Lamoriello: I think that anything you do has to be about the team, but I think you handle every situation individually. I have total confidence that he’ll be under contract before you know it.

What did you think of today’s scrimmage?

Lamoriello: Really pleased with it, certainly. They’ve been doing drills all week and they couldn’t wait to get out there. Some overanxious, some under-anxious, but I think tomorrow will be a little more high-tempo than it was today.

What have you learned about some of your players this week? Have you come out with a positive feel?

Lamoriello: Without question. When you have the opportunity to interact at breakfast or see how they handle themselves away from the rink and how they interact with each other, you find out about the person. This is a people game. The job that our scouts have done over the past couple of years… I’ve said this before I came here, with a lot of players who were already in the fold, so to speak… the character of them, the abilities of them is just outstanding. There is certainly a bright future for quite a few of them.

Do you like Keaton Middleton’s nasty edge? He wasn’t friendly at all, especially in that final period.

Lamoriello: I think, like the orchestra, everyone has an instrument. I think that he’s the drummer and I think he knows what his role is.

How did you like Auston’s performance today?

Lamoriello: I think that Auston is Auston. I think that his abilities speak for themselves. We’ve all seen him. He’s an elite player and will be.

The coach said that Auston and Willy will play together in training camp anyway, and Mitch Marner will start the season as a winger. Are you comfortable with that kind of depth?

Lamoriello: Without question. I think that’s what we are excited about. I think that type of lineup that potentially we can put together in training camp… players will decide who plays and who doesn’t play, and the coaches will certainly be evaluating. It’s going to be exciting seeing some of these kids and how they develop. No one is going to be rushed. There is nothing that is going to get off track. We are going to continue with the process and the end results should take care of themselves.

What did you think of Brooks and Grundstrom’s connection today with Mitch?

Lamoriello: That was the highlight play today. Let’s call it what it is. The way they saw each other and the way they finished it. It was a play that started with hockey sense and finished with creativity.

The sense and vision that Mitch has – that’s an innate skill, isn’t it?

Lamoriello: You don’t teach that. I think you saw that from the first shift that he was on the ice with the first pass he made. It’s something you just can’t teach. It’s just nice to see and nice to have.

At a game like this, how much can you really evaluate the guys and what they’re going through?

Lamoriello: Until you see them day in and day out, you see flashes of what you expect. Players that you have seen before you look for certain things. It’s tough, there’s no question, to evaluate on one day. Tomorrow you’re going to see something different, but until you see them day in, day out under the pressure, you don’t really know how they’re going to respond.

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