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Everyone's happy with draft

Lombardi says time will tell on Kings' pick of Hickey at No. 4. Ducks select a young center, make a deal for another and re-sign two veterans.

June 24, 2007|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

COLUMBUS, OHIO — On the second day of the NHL Entry Draft, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi emerged from his cocoon, and you wondered when the guy had last been outside for more than a few seconds.

Mr. 24/7 Hockey was taking a ribbing from a former colleague about his obsessive work habits and turning draft week into a hostage situation for his staff.

Incidentally, a local reporter asked him what he thought of Columbus. Lombardi will talk about the price being too high for Nashville goalie Tomas Vokoun (who was traded Friday to Florida), try to check his enthusiasm about his second-round pick, center Oscar Moller of Sweden, and tease a Russian reporter about putting words in his mouth: "That's KGB stuff." No talk about the best steakhouse in the city, though.

Lombardi seemed almost giddy as the draft was winding down. The two days started with a controversial selection of defenseman Thomas Hickey on Friday with the fourth selection overall.

"I guess we'll find out in three years," Lombardi said of Hickey. "How about the standard line? 'I can't believe the guy was there.' You want the cliches? 'Boy, we had everybody on our list that was in the top 20. I cannot believe they were still there. Oh boy!' "

Rounds two through seven were Saturday at Nationwide Arena. The Kings had nine selections on the second day and the Ducks had seven, starting with Philadelphia native, center Eric Tangradi in the second round (42nd overall). This came from the Ducks' trading the 16th pick overall to Minnesota for the 19th and 42nd selections.

"That was part of the deal with Minnesota -- that's the guy we wanted, to pick up the extra pick," Ducks General Manager Brian Burke said of the 18-year-old. "Our guys really like him. He has a big upside. He plays the kind of hockey we like."

The Ducks kept busy with a series of other moves, signing defensemen Sean O'Donnell and Kent Huskins to two-year contract extensions. O'Donnell will make $1.25 million each of the next two years, and Huskins will get $600,000 and $650,000.

Additionally, the Ducks acquired center Stephen Dixon from Pittsburgh for center Tim Brent, and traded Ryan Shannon to Vancouver for left wing Jason King and a conditional third-round draft choice in 2009.

"What happened is some of the bigger-bodied guys took his ice time away. I couldn't guarantee him a spot for next year," Burke said of Shannon. "This gives him a fresh chance with another team."

Burke spoke to the Ducks' Chris Pronger about O'Donnell at the NHL Awards ceremony this month in Toronto.

"What he said to me was there's no way you get here without your [defense] partner being a viable part of it," Burke said of Pronger's comments.

The Ducks did not resolve the future of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Still, Burke is hardly in a hurry, and joked about the bad offers from his NHL colleagues. "What do you think -- they're shopping at Zeller's?" Burke asked.

Translation: Think Wal-Mart.

Meanwhile, the No. 1 goalie spot remains wide open for the Kings and will continue to occupy Lombardi's attention. He talked at length about the issue, symbolized by Dan Cloutier's struggles in the crease.

"We made a mistake in moving too quickly and not letting the goaltending thing play out," he said. "We should have, given that we were new, we should have kept three goalies and let that play out and picked the best player, picked the best two.

"I've never taken a team in transition. It's important to make sure you know what you've got. I would have waited, bring in Cloutier, but let this play out."

Also in the mix is Jason LaBarbera. Another goalie could have been added to the equation here, but the price was too high in Columbus when Lombardi was looking to upgrade.

"I'm still interested, but it's got to be the right player," he said.

--

Times staff writer Eric Stephens contributed to this report.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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