I then asked about the recently signed college kids, Corey Elkins and Patrick Mullen. Lombardi explained that former King Mike Donnelly has been working the college trenches recruiting and that the Kings are now offering a great opportunity for development and the chance to play, and players are starting to listen. “He was on everyone’s list” Lombardi said of Mullen, who is the son of former NHL great Joey Mullen. “It came down to us and Vancouver, and he took us”.
Justin Azevedo will also be signed to an NHL deal.
That’s great news. He was a point a game in Manchester for awhile (not to mention being the scoring leader in the OHL over Stamkos in Stamkos’s draft year). Maybe he gets a shot at my dream concept fourth line of small annoying speedsters.
Then I asked about last years’ 3rd round selection, Bryan Cameron who was not offered a contract and will go back into this years’ draft. “Not good enough”, he began. “His numbers were ok but these are the decision you gotta make. We’ve only got 50 contracts so it wasn’t a money issue. We’ll be the youngest team in the minors so that means a lot of contracts so you have to be careful”.
Andrei Loktionov, who made an impression on everyone during the Memorial Cup run is one of Lombardi’s favorite subjects. He repeated his enthusiasm at the State of the Franchise meeting. “He’s ready for the next step. He was really good. He was the perfect… you talk about development? The Russians were trying to get all of those kids to sign 4/5 year contracts and then we couldn’t get ‘em, period. We couldn’t even buy them out of it under the league rules”.
“In Loktionov’s case, they were going to let him go through (the entire draft) and we only took him in the 5th round, and he kept his word. He came here in the summer and then we were lucky” Lombardi wanted him acclimated to the North American game and sang the praises of former NHL players Bob Bougner and Warren Rychel. “They’re cowboys, and they win”.
“I’d be surprised if he doesn’t play in Manchester. I think he’s ready for that. He’s just too smart. The only way he won’t is if he starts acting up”.