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Paul Holmgren: 'We can't keep giving up' high draft picks

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Hey, look! A draftee spotting in the wild!
Hey, look! A draftee spotting in the wild!

Paul Holmgren talked about the draft on a conference call with reporters. I know, believe it or not, it wasn't just silence for 20 minutes. That doesn't mean he said a lot, but it's still worth reading whenever the general manager speaks.

Of note, he did express the idea that the organization cannot continue on the path of not holding any high draft picks, but he also said that having a high volume of later round picks can work out in your favor, as opposed to having one pick in all seven rounds. I would like to argue with him on that notion. 

After the jump, the transcript of his talk, thanks to the Flyers PR bros. As you can imagine, he also touched on free agency, trades and the Ilya Bryzgalov stuff. Again, he didn't say much, but you know...

Q: Can you walk us through the depth of this draft and the overall look at this draft and how it compares to others in the past?

"I think this is a fairly decent draft. We had our end of the year scouting meetings, it ended ten days ago, and our list looks pretty good.  If you look at guys that we think are going to be first round picks I think it's comparable to last year. There are drafts that have been better, think back to the draft of 2003. It's not looking like that but there are a lot of good players and I think there are some players that if they are drafted on the right team, they will have the chance to play right away. I think that's a good thing.

Q: Are you looking at this draft as an opportunity to move up? If I'm not mistaken you don't pick until the third round. Correct?

"Right.  Just like any other draft we go in with an open mind, listening and seeing what's available. Obviously, there are teams trying to jockey for positions right now. I think there are a few teams from what I can gather that have later picks that are trying to move up. There are teams that are willing to improve their team. It's funny how that's changed, I think, with the last number of years, I believe anyway, that most teams are trying to build their teams prior to July 1st and when you get to July 1st over the free agency period maybe just try to add that one piece. It just seems likes there's a lot of talk right now anyway around the league, so there could be a lot of things happening as we get closer to Friday.

Q: Could you imagine a scenario in which you guys could jump into one of the first two rounds?

"I don't think it is out of the question, but you never know what's going to happen. It's something we are certainly trying to stay involved with just to see what people are talking about, more than anything."

Q: Do you feel that, from an organizational standpoint, there is that need to move up in the draft?

"Again, we will continue to look at things and see what's available and do what we think is right for the organization. We will sort through that one. We have a lot of picks.  Look at where we are at this year, we have five picks right now. 

Next year we are missing a couple already.  Obviously we can't continue to do that. We need to, especially the higher picks - we can't keep giving them up. I think we have made some deals for higher picks that have given us good players that are still of a good age that will be good players for a number of years, but looking at this draft, we're certainly open to talking about certain things. Whether anything happens or not, I don't know, but right now our first pick is at 84 of the 3rd round and there is a chance that we can get a good player there."  

Q: Would you consider any particular players in this draft to be NHL type ready players? There has been a lot of talk with Gabriel Landeskog being that type of player.

"Gabriel's [Landeskog] name comes up early because he looks like he is physically ready right now. I think that is why people say that about him being NHL ready. It's funny - you go back to last year's draft and you look at guys that you think are going to go in the first round and you look at what came out of that round and played right away... I don't think anyone would have said Jeff Skinner was ready to play in the NHL, and he gets drafted by Carolina, they put him in and he makes their team and has a tremendous year.

You just never know. A lot of it is depending on what the team needs and a lot of it depends on how their training camps go and how their pre-season goes. I don't know if you can just say there's this guy and this guy. I think it just depends on who drafts them and what their needs are as they move into their regular season.

Q: From a position standpoint, is there a need to beef up on any position in particular?

"I think if you look at our team right now, we are very strong down the middle and I think our NHL team we have a couple older guys on the back end, Kimmo [Timonen] and Chris [Pronger], but we do have some good guys that are fairly young, Braydon [Coburn], Matt Carle and [Andrej] Meszaros, are still all still fairly young if you consider their age, but I don't know if there is any none, obviously we are going to try to draft the best player available regardless of the position. 

We probably need to strengthen all areas, and that's kind of where the open mind comes in.  When we get to that point we're not just going to try for one position. If you look on our reserve list we could probably add something in every category."

Q: How much drop off is there if you don't have a high number one pick?

"When you get going to [pick number] 17 or 18, you're probably looking at... who knows, you might get the same player at 45 or 50.  It's just that much of a crap shoot.

We're talking about 17 and 18 year old kids that aren't fully developed and something in their game needs to be improved, whether its their skating or take out their physical structure, you know they are going to get older and you believe they are going to get stronger, something needs to improve. If we had a pick in the top 17 where we thought we would get a real solid prospect... probably after that it becomes a little more of a gamble. 

Q: How much does volume of picks matter to you as much as having a high pick? How much do you improve your chances if you have an extra second rounder or a second third rounder?

"I think they improve drastically; it's another stab at a prospect. The fact that we don't have any second round picks is not an ideal position. We haven't had one for a while so we are looking around at things right now."

Q: I kind of get a feeling that this a draft that you would want to have something in the first two rounds.

"That's fair to say. I think if you talk to any of the other 29 teams, they'd probably say the same thing. It's a fairly good draft, there are some good top-end guys and as I mentioned from 17 down, you might get the same player. They are all good prospects, so it's a considerable draft. [We are] drafting at 84 right now and we'd like to move up, absolutely. Are we going to be able to? I don't know, we will see how it goes."

Q: If you have to clear cap room, what are the chances of getting a draft pick, trading a veteran player, what are the chances of getting a fairly high pick back?

"I don't know right now. I don't feel like we are in a position to have to clear cap space. We still don't know what the cap is going to go up to, [but] kind of have an idea that it's going to go up a fair amount.  There are some players that we have, Ville Leino, that [are] unrestricted and we want to keep in our mix.  So, we are going to have to do some tinkering here. It's not a like we are in a position where we absolutely have to move cap space or move people to make cap space."

Q: The impression from the other people around the league is that you do have to move cap space to be able to re-sign [Ilya] Bryzgalov and [Ville] Leino. So you're saying that you don't have to?

"We'll see how it goes. There are things that we want to accomplish as we get closer to training camp, but that's a long time from now. There is no fire sale going on here. We are going to continue to try and sign Ilya [Bryzgalov], obviously, and continue to try and sign Ville [Leino], then we will see. It's not like we are caught between a rock and a hard place right now.

Q: Could you have a deal for Bryzgalov by the end of the week?

"I guess we could. Right now we are going to talk again tomorrow. Like I said, on Friday, we know where they're at and what they want to accomplish. I think they know where we're at. Obviously to make a deal, there is going to have to be some sort of a compromise. It might take some time and we are going to keep looking at it."

Q: Is the compromise in years rather than dollars or is it both?

"I would say it's both right now."

Q: Would you like to have the [Ilya] Bryzgalov situation settled by the draft?

"Well, we would like that to get resolved at some point. I am not sure it matters prior to the draft; there is still enough time after the draft to get a deal done. The important thing is that there was progress made when Ilya [Bryzgalov] and his agent, Ritch Winter, were in town. I don't see any reason why that's not going to continue. I don't have a crystal ball, so I can't really give you a definitive answer. There is enough progress, which kind of gives me hope, anyway, that we can make a deal at some point."

Q: Have you or the other general managers been told a definitive date when you'll have the salary cap number for next year?

"No. It usually comes before the draft. I have not heard anything...a definitive date this year."