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Is Size Back in Style for NHL Teams?



Is Size Back in Style for NHL Teams?

When Mark Yannetti visits Kings Of The Podcast, primarily based on fan suggestions, he ranks amongst the most effective friends to be featured on the present. His breadth and depth of solutions are second to none. In truth, you’d be laborious pressed to discover a extra open sports activities government, who effortlessly educates these paying consideration at any time when he speaks.

Over the previous 18 years, Yannetti has served because the central determine among the many LA Kings numerous scouting teams centered on NHL prospects. As the present Director of Beginner Scouting, he has confirmed to be one of the crucial educated individuals within the recreation.

As such, there was a treasure trove of insights and behind the scenes nuggets that have been shared throughout his 75+ minute interview final week. Though that’s far an excessive amount of to transcribe, we’ll share some choose highlights by way of a collection of articles over the following few weeks.

First up, let’s sort out one of many stylish subjects across the league this month. A couple of years after the Kings received their championships in 2012 and 2014, there was a push by most golf equipment to go for ‘velocity and ability’ over dimension; a notion that appears to be seeing the pendulum swing again the opposite path all through many of the chatter throughout this 12 months’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

With that in thoughts, Yannetti was requested if dimension was again in type heading into the 2024 NHL Draft:

[ed. note: the below transcript is a 95% word-for-word recap, with unmercenary transitions and misc. words removed, along with some minor paraphrasing done for clarity when reading]

“When all the things is equal, dimension issues,” started the veteran hockey thoughts, talking via his occasional thick Boston accent. “Measurement doesn’t matter for size-sake, however you actually would quite be huge and quick than small and quick, and even common dimension and quick. You need to be huge and sensible, quite than common dimension and sensible. So, dimension issues. However there’s heavy dimension and there’s mushy dimension. I’d like to have a bunch of 6-foot-4 Drew Doughty’s working round our blueline, with a little bit sprinkle of [Victor] Hedman and perhaps some Darian Hatcher thrown in.

“There are particular issues we’ve got to do to fill out the roster and I hope every year […] we study some classes alongside the way in which about the way to construct a greater mousetrap for subsequent 12 months. One of many issues can be to get — and Rob [Blake] mentioned it, it’s not prefer it’s a secret — we’ve got the ability half down. I believe we’ve got the velocity half down. So, sure, dimension is essential; but it surely’s a scale. At what level does dimension and ability hit a tipping level, or dimension and skating hit that stability level? At what level does the smaller, higher participant win out? And at what level does the scale mute a few of the different issues, and the scale win out?

“Measurement issues, up to a degree. Then it doesn’t. Measurement can’t trump an enormous hole. It could possibly trump a smaller hole. However, on the finish of the day, if in case you have a bunch of [tall guys] who can’t get the puck up rapidly or they will’t achieve a zone, then it doesn’t do you any good. After we received our Cups, everyone thought we have been this huge, heavy staff. We have been, however that’s not what we have been constructing. We have been constructing a staff to do two issues: a staff that bought the puck up the ice as quick as potential — out of our zone and into [the opposition’s] zone as quick as potential, and [we wanted guys who] once they misplaced possession or didn’t have possession, bought it again as quick as potential. These have been the 2 issues that we have been actually seeking to do.

“And the truth that a few of the guys had dimension was nice, however Drew wasn’t actually huge, [Slava] Voynov wasn’t actually huge, [Alec] Martinez wasn’t actually huge. Matt Greene was; he was the proper man in the proper function on the proper facet. Having Kopitar as your middle [was great], however he has all the opposite attributes too.

“There are many groups on the market that attempted to [copy us]. They bought what we have been doing flawed. They tried to imitate the massive, heavy factor, or the truculent factor or the powerful factor. It doesn’t work when that’s the primary ingredient. When that’s the first attribute you’re seeking to do, I don’t assume it really works.”

In terms of the Draft, Yannetti continues to be satisfied you go about issues in a extra systematic means than merely saying, ‘Draft larger gamers.’

“You create tiers,” he defined. “Then, if in case you have 5 gamers in a tier, now dimension issues. You probably have three smaller gamers in a tier and an enormous participant in a tier, it’s apparent. If that’s what you need to do, you’re taking the massive participant within the tier. Then it really works, then it’s sound and that’s logical. Measurement will not be the first issue, but it surely’s the separating issue between 4 or 5 pretty equal property.

“Then once more, dimension in itself doesn’t essentially imply heaviness, doesn’t essentially imply aggressive, doesn’t essentially imply ‘laborious to play towards.’ We are able to consider 10 huge mushy guys offhand who don’t actually influence the sport. And we may consider 5-foot-10 guys who influence the sport like an even bigger man does, like a heavier man does. Then type comes into it. There are such a lot of subtleties and layers to the scale argument or the scale debate. However individuals get fixated on simply the plain ‘dimension’ factor.

“Are Florida’s huge defensemen extra essential than their small D? I don’t know. I believe you could possibly make a very good case for both. Now, you get into staff constructing, the mix of it’s actually good. You might have a perceived smaller man — and it’s potential roster building, and it’s a little bit little bit of luck too — the place the right-handed, or the left-handed smaller D, matches with the right-handed tall D, they usually complement one another. When it really works like that, now you’ve got all of the substances working collectively.”

“It’s an extended course of to do it like that. It’s course of, however if in case you have one other staff with three small guys, and three huge guys that don’t match, now the scale is misplaced. The complementary, the cohesion of it, doesn’t work. So, there’s loads of issues that go into it. Within the Draft, I’d need each man within the tier to be 6-foot-4 to make issues simpler. It’s simply not usually the case.”

From there, the dialog veered off to speak about roster building in LA for a bit after which circled again to a pair of tall prospects that ought to be arriving within the NHL quickly — Andre Lee and Sammy Helenius.

It was identified that the duo fashioned Ontario’s greatest line through the latest AHL Calder Cup playoffs, with each elevating their recreation down the stretch of the 2023-24 common season after which once more within the post-season. Lee, particularly, appeared to seek out the stability of enjoying bodily, aggressive, and but contained, to the place he doesn’t take loads of penalties. Yannetti was requested if he agreed with that evaluation.

“Completely!” he declared, with none hesitation. “And take into accounts [Lee had] two main accidents. Think about if he had the complete season to construct on. I believe it’s exceptional that he was in a position to [do what he did this season]. He’s a man who needed to work on his transition recreation. Don’t overlook, when he was drafted, he was nonetheless extra of a of a ability man, much less of a bodily man. A variety of occasions, whenever you draft these guys, you’ll hear individuals discuss ‘backup video games.’ One of many issues that made us enthusiastic about him then is the truth that he had a backup recreation. Ought to he not fall right into a middle-six function, he has that bottom-three function, a 3rd line function.

“You’re seeing a little bit of that coming collectively now. He and Helenius appear to play very effectively collectively, they learn off one another effectively. It’s actually laborious to play towards two guys who’re that huge, which might be actually bodily.

“Helenius might be a little bit extra bodily, Lee might be a little bit bit higher with the puck. They every have attributes in different areas that complement one another. Lee had an awesome Rookie Camp. Actually, I used to be shocked extra individuals weren’t speaking about him earlier within the season. Earlier than he bought damage early, he appeared actually good. You by no means know, however I wouldn’t have been shocked if he had earned himself a short-term call-up this [past] 12 months. You see the prospects loads of occasions get known as up for a short-term, after which return right down to hone the issues they realized. Then they arrive again up once more later.

“You noticed it with [Tyler] Toffoli. You noticed it with [Tanner] Pearson, [Jordan] Nolan, a few of these guys got here up longer than others, however they arrive up, they bought their style, realized what it’s like and what they should do to remain up the following time. I believe Lee might need achieved that, and it might have been actually attention-grabbing. You don’t need to put unrealistic expectations on gamers, but when Lee hadn’t gotten damage, it wouldn’t have shocked me if he had an identical call-up like [Akil] Thomas did.

“Now, Thomas is aware of what he has to do subsequent 12 months. I absolutely count on him to be [on the Kings roster] subsequent 12 months. It will have been good for Lee to have an entire season final 12 months, however he actually seems to be like he’s placing himself within the dialog for making the LA Kings subsequent season.”

The dialog additionally provided loads of commentary on Helenius — each the thought of him and Lee making the NHL as a bundle deal, in addition to what Helenius’ general growth seems to be like shifting ahead.

That full dialog could be heard right here. We’ll share a small style of what that a part of the dialog included…

“I believe Helenius creates a little bit bit extra room on the market and I believe Lee takes benefit of it,” defined Yannetti. “I believe Lee does a little bit little bit of issues with the puck barely higher than Helenius, however Helenius is ready to benefit from that. I believe the issues that every man is healthier at enhances the issues that the opposite man isn’t fairly pretty much as good at. Enjoying towards guys that dimension, even when they’re simply leaning on you — you undergo half a recreation, by the second half of the sport, second half of the season, that stuff begins to build up.

“Method again when, once we envisioned Kopitar, Byfield, a 3C, after which Helenius at 4C sometime, you hope that timeline comes collectively in some unspecified time in the future, as a result of there’s simply no reduction. It’s simply wave after wave of getting to cope with huge guys; and it doesn’t matter what, it tires you out. It tires you out through the season, it tires you out throughout a recreation, and it actually tires you out in a seven-game collection.”

Ultimately, the dialog turned to some youthful gamers who even have dimension — together with Jared Wright and Kaleb Lawerence. The latter simply completed up a stint on the Memorial Cup and stands 6-foot-7. He performs with an edge, some particular snarl. He just lately signed his first NHL contract and shall be turning professional this summer season, earlier than becoming a member of AHL Ontario subsequent season. Learn extra about Lawerence right here.

Wright, however, is coming off a Nationwide Championship at Denver and has determined to remain in class for the 2024-25 marketing campaign. All indicators level to the 6-foot-3 ahead turning professional subsequent April or Could.

“Wright borders on being an elite skater,” Yannetti proclaimed. “By way of skating, he’s most likely not with [Adrian] Kempe or [Austin] Wagner in the case of flat out velocity, however he actually isn’t far behind them. He has a robust base, actually highly effective. Wright is coming; he has dimension, he performs the sport the proper means, and he can chip in offensively. Though the primary a part of his recreation is forechecking, pressuring pucks, and distributing them; not essentially creatively playmaking, as of now.”

Yannetti additionally provided up a daring prediction relating to two prospects from LA’s 2022 Draft class — “Barring them getting struck by lightning, [Kenny] Connors and Wright shall be NHL gamers. No one is a lock, however there’s a excessive likelihood of these two guys enjoying vital NHL video games.”

These prospects ought to all begin coming in waves. Lee and Helenius up first, adopted by Wright at ahead. On protection, there’s additionally Jakub Dvorak, who got here to North America in January and started his post-Draft journey by way of the WHL. He’s already signed his Entry Degree Contract, so he’s pushing to formally be part of the Kings pipeline quickly too. Extra on that scenario throughout Improvement Camp subsequent month.

For the complete Yannetti interview, remember to pay attention on the hyperlink beneath.


Kings Of The Podcast: Ep. 192 – Mark Yannetti at NHL Scouting Mix

Kings Signal Pair of Prospects Pushing for NHL Roster Spots Subsequent Season


Photographs by way of Daniel Stopani

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