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Burke Discusses Draft, Other Topics

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
With the 2008 NHL Entry Draft set to begin tomorrow in Ottawa, Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Burke held a morning conference call on Thursday to discuss possible weekend scenarios and other topics, most notably the statuses of Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne. The following is a transcript:

On drafting at the 12th overall position:

There’s not a kid in this draft at 12 that will make our team next year. Drafting by position, we don’t do that. We take the best athlete available and it looks like we have a surplus of defensemen and if the next name on the list is a defenseman, we’re taking a defenseman. I think the GM’s job is to adjust your depth chart by trade, not at the draft. You draft the best athlete available that fits our profile, the type of kid we try to look for.

On the availability of
Columbus’ sixth overall pick:
Well, I don’t want to speak for (Blue Jackets GM) Scott Howson. I know what he’s told me is that they are not moving that pick until they see who’s there. They have a guy in mind. They won’t share who it is with me. They have a player in mind and if he’s there, they’re picking. If not, they’ll try and move the pick. If they move the pick, we’ll likely be on the phone.

On the possibility of prospect Kyle Beach being available to the Ducks at 12:
There’s a good chance he’ll be there. That’s a kid we like a lot. I’m not going to commit to what we’re going to do, but we like the kid a lot. He’s a prototypical Ducks player. He’s skilled and tough.

On his first round strategy this year:
I think the best way to explain this is if you imagine a sideway view of the beach, the Pacific Ocean, you’ve got a little shelf that runs out from the beach then there’s a drop-off. You go out a little farther then there’s another drop-off. That’s how a draft is. In this draft you have (Steven) Stamkos and then there’s a drop-off. He’s the best player. Then you have a cluster of defensemen, who are all talented. A number of them are right shots, which are hard for us to find, and then you’ve got another drop-off. That next drop-off goes past the 15th player and it’s a good group. At 12, we could easily trade down one or two spots and still get one of the guys that we like in that group. We’re lining up the teams below us and telling them that we would consider trading the pick on the floor depending on the name. If we get there and the scouts say, ‘Look this guy dropped’, because you never know. Someone always goes off the list. It takes a guy that’s not in your group and now that means that one of your names dropped. We’re telling them, depending on who’s there, we would consider moving the pick right there and trading down. We’d go as low as 15 and we’re still comfortable to get one of the kids we like.

On Scott Niedermayer:
Here’s what I told Scotty. His agent said that he’s going to decide by Friday. That’s not the deadline we’ve given him. His wife is expecting a baby. What I told Scotty is, you take the weekend. He’s got much bigger fish to fry right now. The Samueli’s are family first and that’s how we’ve always done things and that’s how we’ll always do things. You look after your family right now. We can wait until Monday. The operative date for us is July 1, not tomorrow. Nothing we do tomorrow, positionally, it doesn’t factor in. We’re going to take whoever we take.

I don’t have a sense which way he’s leaning. I know which way I hope he’s leaning.

On Teemu Selanne:

He’s an unrestricted free agent. I can’t give Teemu a deadline. I can give Scotty all the deadlines I want because he’s under contract, but Teemu is an unrestricted free agent. He can sign wherever he wants, whenever he wants. What I’ve told his agent, Don Baizley, is that as of July 1, we are not going to commit that we would have funds available to re-sign him. He has a deadline not to sign with us, but that at that point we might move on and not be in a position to sign him. That’s a real deadline for us.

On if the unknown statuses of Scotty and Teemu hamstrings him in any dealings with the roster this weekend:
With Teemu, I’m not in a position to give him deadlines. It’s not realistic. Would I like to know? It would be nice. In Scotty’s case, as I said a year ago, I think players earn the right to decide when they walk away from the game. Scotty earned that right. What I told him this year is because of the budget and the cap situation it’s resulted in, I’m not doing that again. As far as getting through this weekend without an answer, the operative date was July 1. That’s when we would act to replace him if he’s not going to come back. It doesn’t hamstring us over the weekend.

On analyzing other teams for trade options:
Unfortunately for us, we’ve had time. We’ve been working on other teams now for a month. We’ve been spoiled. The last couple of years we’ve played into late May and the middle of June. This is the first year in three years where we’ve had time in late April and May and we haven’t wasted that time. We’ve been working on teams since we were eliminated and trying to see what we can do.

On the possibility of making any deals this weekend that would affect the Ducks’ NHL roster:
There’s 30 teams, imagine a big chess board, let’s say someone makes a move for a player and let’s say four teams are in on that deal, well that means three teams now are looking for something else. A lot of this is reactive where someone moves a piece on the chess board and all the sudden there’s three teams calling you because the player they wanted just went to another team. I think the whole thing is going to heat up tonight. There is some chance that we’ll be able to do something.

On teams picking in the top five:
Right now, you look at the draft sequence (after Tampa Bay at No.1). It’s LA. I’ve talked to (Kings GM) Dean (Lombardi) and he told me who they’re picking. I’ve talked to Atlanta. They’re picking at three and they told me who they’re picking. St. Louis and the New York Islanders have both said that they’re picking unless someone blows them out of the water. I don’t sense that there’s any urgency to move it. It’s a really good group of players. I know if I was sitting with the third or fourth pick, I’d be very happy if nothing materialized and I got to go up and pick.

On prospect Colten Teubert:
He’s a big, hard-nosed kid and a good player. He’s in that group. Anyone who’s big and belligerent, they target as a guy we would take. We also, believe it or not, like skill too. When we won the Cup we had a pretty skilled team. Teubert’s not as skilled (as Kyle Beach) yet. He has upside.

On how he likes to develop teams:
Developing my teams, the top six forwards, you try to have a maximum blend of size and skill. The bottom six guys are your hard hat guys. They’re your penalty killers, your faceoff guys, your checking line and they provide the truculence to your lineup that I like. Drafting at 12, you’re not shooting for a bottom six forward. You’re not shooting for a five or six defenseman. You’re shooting for a guy you hope will be in your top four on defense and you’re hoping for a top six forward or a goaltender. There are a couple goaltenders in there and I’ll draft a goaltender if that’s the name on the list.

On prospect Nikita Filatov:
The uncertainty of Russian players, obviously there’s no transfer agreement with the Russians, that’s an issue. The type of game we play, if you look at even our top six forwards, if we can get size and belligerence in the top six we still like that. Like Corey Perry is a physical player. Ryan Getzlaf’s a physical player. He doesn’t exactly fit our prototype, but we like him. We have not ruled out Filatov at that pick.

On the difference in prospects Drew Doughty and Zach Bogosian:
I think more guys would say that Doughty is ready to play right now. Bogosian’s got maybe more upside. Bogosian hasn’t become the player he’s going to be and Doughty is. Doughty is ready to play. At 12, the only thing I’m going to see tomorrow is them walk by my table on the way to get up and get picked. They’re not going to be there at 12.

On his focus entering the draft:

The focus right now is how we maximize the picks we have here. We have 12. We’ve got our second round pick, which dropped because the (Blake) Wheeler (situation) and Phoenix got a compensatory pick (35th overall), we dropped from 42 to 43. Then we’ve got three thirds. We’re exploring packaging two of those thirds and moving up. Maybe trading two thirds for a second. We’re working every angle here and every team. You can’t just focus on the teams right below you. You might have a team that has a late first round pick that would take a second and two thirds for it. We’re trying to turn over every stone and I think we’ve done that. I think all the teams know what we’re trying to do or what we would consider. Now we have to see if it falls into place. Sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve said this before, I think draft deals have disproportionate value. Let’s say you trade John Smith for John Doe and you make that deal on December 1 and you do it because you think it improves your hockey club. That same deal at the draft generates a tremendous amount of interest and sells tickets. I think draft day deals, I’ve made two big ones, I think they have disproportionate value. I think they have a marketing component. If we can do something and get some coverage in our market, I think that has value to it, but you’re not going to ever make a deal just for that. It has to be a deal you think you’d make in December because it makes your team better. If you can do it here, you get a little bit of a splash at a quiet time.
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