LAKings.com sat down with Kings pro scout Steve Greeley as the team prepares for the 2010 Entry Draft.
LAKings.com: As a Pro Scout, what is your role the weeks leading up to the draft and at the draft itself?
Greeley: As we approach the Draft, I really focus my attention on my player lists and making sure that I am prepared to speak internally at a moment’s notice on players that are part of other organizations. Draft day is the biggest day of the year for the amateur scouting staff led by Mike Futa and Mark Yannetti. While I do not have direct responsibilities in terms of who we select, I do need to be prepared for all trade scenarios. With the pro scouting staff, it is crucial that, along with Rob Laird and Alyn McCauley, I am fully prepared to dissect the other 29 NHL team’s active rosters and depth charts. As we see every year at the draft, both minor and major trades come out of nowhere as teams jockey for drafting position. The pro scouting staff has spent the season watching NHL and AHL games with a focus on learning as much as possible about every player in the league. When a trade scenario does present itself, it is imperative that we are prepared to speak with both Dean (Lombardi) and Ron (Hextall) on the ins and outs of the players involved in the trade discussions. Rob, Alyn and I prepare for the Draft in the same way that we prepare for July 1 and the beginning of the Unrestricted Free Agency period by making sure we have not left any stone unturned and that we can advise Dean and Ron with every bit of information and insight we have been able to gather on players from across the NHL and AHL.
LAKings.com: This is the first time the Kings have hosted the draft. Do you think having Los Angeles as the host city is an advantage to the Kings draft picks this season?
Greeley: I am not sure if there is an advantage to being drafted by the host city, but our picks in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft will certainly be receiving quite a bit of local media attention. The STAPLES Center will be full of passionate Kings fans and the players we select will notice right away that LA is in fact a hockey town and a city where the fans care a great deal. Anyone that watched our series against Vancouver understands that LA is not only a great hockey city, but a city that is hungry to win. It is an especially fun experience to be drafted by the host organization because the local fans will welcome the picks with enthusiastic applause, and that’s a memorable moment for an 18/19 year old player.
The players will have a day or two to enjoy being drafted, but then in true Dean Lombardi and Ron Hextall fashion, the future Kings will be back in the gym and working toward making an impression at their first NHL Development Camp in July at the Toyota Sports Center. Being drafted is an honor, but it is not a guarantee that the players will have an NHL career. Right after shaking hands with the staff on the draft floor, our selections will meet Mike O'Connell, Mike Donnelly and Nelson Emerson who are in charge of our player development. This relationship will be crucial to the players’ success and one that cannot start too early.
LAKings.com: Los Angeles has not picked this late in the draft (19th) since they chose left wing Alexander Frolov (20th overall) in 2000. How does the strategy change when you are not one of the top 10 teams in the draft order?
Greeley: Traditional draft strategy is similar from team-to-team. The phrase "draft the best available player" is a common saying amongst upper management in any organization. Obviously, the further back you go from No. 1 overall, the less likely the player you select will have an immediate impact in the NHL. More often than not, a player selected outside the top two, will head to college, back to Junior hockey or back to Europe before embarking on their NHL careers. The past three seasons, we have been sitting in the front row on draft day which is nice because you are getting a high-end prospect, but it also means that your team finished in the bottom five of the league. This year is quite different, we do not pick until No. 19 which means that we have had our best season since Dean took the reigns.
LAKings.com: The Kings are entering their fifth season under the direction of General Manager Dean Lombardi. In your opinion, where do the Kings stand in their rebuilding phase?
Greeley: We are certainly making progress. As I touched on earlier, when we sit down at our draft table in the STAPLES Center on Friday night, we will be the furthest from the podium since Dean took control of the Kings and that is a sign that we are heading in the right direction. There were some bright spots this year for the organization: five of our players played in the Olympics, we made the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and the Manchester Monarchs had an impressive playoff run. Dean has the staff analyze the player charts and lists leading up to the draft, and every year it seems as though we have fewer needs. That doesn’t mean that our "holes" or "needs" are less important, but it does mean that through Dean and Ron's leadership, we are successfully addressing issues that needed fixing and becoming a more complete organization in regards to player personnel. Dean has done a great job of getting everyone on the same page. I have admired the fact that there are no shortcuts in this organization. It was a great moment when we clinched a playoff spot, but we certainly are not content or satisfied with that achievement. The Vancouver loss is something that not only our players have to learn from but also our scouts.
LAKings.com: This is your first draft in the role as a Pro Scout as you were an NCAA Scout for the previous three seasons. How is this draft different for you than previous drafts?
Greeley: This year, I will have more responsibility at the draft table. If any trades are to be offered to us, as a member of the pro staff, I will need to be prepared to give my opinion on the spot. It’s an exciting experience. We have spent all year watching games and scouting players, making sure we are learning something every time we walk into an NHL or AHL arena, and this is the time of year when we are given the opportunity to put all of that work to good use. For the pro staff, we take a backseat to the amateur staff at the table, but we do know that at anytime, the phone could ring with a GM from another organization making an offer. When that phone rings, we must be prepared for anything.