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LA Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi On Prospects Colten Teubert and Brandon Kozun

LOS ANGELES — For any National Hockey League team, drafting and development of young prospects is crucial to their long-term success. But for the majority of their 42-year history, the Los Angeles Kings generally resorted to foolishly trading away their first round draft picks and their best young players for NHL veterans—some had been star players—who were little more than washed-up has-beens.

That started to change under former general manager Dave Taylor, but the great emphasis on drafting and development has come under current Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi, who has built the team’s drafting and player development infrastructure up to what is now regarded as one of the best scouting and development staffs in the league.

Last month, four Kings prospects represented Canada in the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championships in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Center Brayden Schenn (Brandon Wheat Kings, Western Hockey League), defenseman Colten Teubert (Regina Pats, WHL), right wing Brandon Kozun (Calgary Hitmen, WHL) and goaltender Martin Jones (Calgary Hitmen) helped lead Canada to the Silver Medal, losing to the United States in the championship game.

Lombardi expressed a great deal of pride that four of his team’s young prospects made Team Canada and he spoke with Frozen Royalty about Teubert’s and Kozun’s development.

“[Teubert has] made a lot of progress, but he still has a lot to learn,” said Lombardi. “The whole thing about his physical game still has to be channelled in the right direction. You can’t play like the Flyers of the Seventies, so you have to channel that type of aggression. You can’t get away with just running around being physical.”

Indeed, the 19-year-old native of White Rock, British Columbia, who is the captain of the Pats and was one of two Kings’ prospects (Thomas Hickey) to win a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Juniors, is a rather imposing physical force, but tends to get caught up in trying to make the big hit too often, taking himself out of defensive position.

Although the 6-4, 194-pound Teubert has improved on that, he still has quite a ways to go.

“I think we saw in the [Kings] rookie camp [tournament held in September 2009], I loved the fact that when you saw that guy run Hickey, he was in there,” said Lombardi. “Those are the type of things that, as that type of player, he’s got to do. But he’s got to pick his spots better.”

“Then, he’s got to get smarter with the puck,” added Lombardi. “Sometimes these guys try to add to their game too much, thinking they should be rushing pucks. Whoa. You were drafted to be that physical, make the first pass guy.”

Even though Teubert’s defensive game was very raw when the Kings selected him in the first round (thirteenth overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, his physical game and toughness was what they needed.

Nevertheless, he has a lot of work to do before he hits NHL ice for good.

“I think he had his ups and downs last year,” Lombardi noted. “The World Junior team wanted him because of that [toughness] element, just like why we drafted him. But he got a big wake-up call when we sent him to the [Ontario Reign of the] ECHL [late last year]. He wasn’t ready for [the AHL].”

In 45 games with the Pats this season, Teubert has scored nine goals and has added 24 assists for 33 points with eighty penalty minutes. In the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championships, he recorded one assist and had a +5 plus/minus rating in six games.

On the other side of the red line, Kozun is lighting up the WHL.

“This Kozun kid is off the charts,” Lombardi beamed. “I love this kid. To do what he’s doing in the Western Hockey League, and I know the scoring is diluted, but it’s not [as bad] as the Quebec [Major Junior Hockey] League. He has gone to another level.”

“The Quebec league has always had inflated [scoring], but the Western league? He’s scoring at will,” Lombardi added.”

Kozun, 19, is ranked fourth in WHL scoring this season, (through games played on February 9, 2010), with 24 goals and 52 assists for 76 points and forty penalty minutes in 48 games with the Hitmen.

Nevertheless, Kozun’s size, or lack thereof (5-8, 155 pounds), will be a huge obstacle for him to overcome in his trek to the NHL. But Lombardi remains hopeful.

“He’s got a Volkswagen, [Theoren] Fleury-type mentality,” Lombardi explained. “He’s a little guy, but he’s got the right chip on his shoulder. You can see that he’s small, but this kid is wound up and he just loves to play. You can just see it.”

“That’s why he goes in the middle rounds,” Lombardi elaborated. “But for guys like this, you always overlook the heart. But he’s skilled.”

Is Kozun, who was selected by the Kings in the sixth round (179th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the next coming of former Calgary Flames great Theoren Fleury?

Maybe.

“Fleury went in the seventh round,” said Lombardi. “But this is about your scouts doing a good job. You take a swing [in the middle rounds]. [Kozun’s] got a chance. You have to hit your two in every draft, and you’re going to have to hit in the middle rounds once in awhile. We might’ve scored here, this is pretty good.”

“You always overlook this [pointing to his heart]. You know what? You’ve got to be careful. You never want to count those kids out. He’s fun to watch. He’s pretty good.”


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16 Responses to LA Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi On Prospects Colten Teubert and Brandon Kozun

  1. Mark Llobrera says:

    I’ve noticed that one of the things that Lombardi always mentions first when he talks about a prospect is “heart”. It seems to be the primary attribute he looks for, even more so than skill level.

  2. Gann Matsuda says:

    Not sure you can say that. A prospect has to have some talent, no matter how much heart or character he might have.

  3. AzKing says:

    A bit overdramatic by Lombardi on Kozun. Kid will never skate a regular shift in the NHL.

  4. lowdrive says:

    Some people have said he’ll never skate a shift in the NHL period. I won’t say who..

  5. Gann Matsuda says:

    Thought I just said that I don’t think he has a chance to make it to the big time.

  6. Jim says:

    Im assuming that those posting on here have never seen this kid play… and are instead hard headed boneheads who dont understand the game while just pointing at measurements and passing judgement accordingly. Ive seen Kozun play quite a bit, and Lombardi’s enthusiasm is shared by me. The kid is one of the top players in the CHL. Plays in the WHL, a very physical league with big strong players and dominates night in and night out. He has been lights out for a very long time and has the potential to be a very strong addition for you guys. I would be pissed that my Calgary Flames decide to draft goons while overlooking a guy they see in their own building, but in the Daryll Sutter era we have come to expect boneheaded drafting and development. Sound familiar?

  7. Gann Matsuda says:

    Jim, you’d be wrong about your assumptions. Also, personal attacks and name-calling are not acceptable here. Thanks.

  8. Jim says:

    Understandable, and I apologize if you took my comments in the wrong vain. Not trying to stir up trouble. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on both of these players. Have you seen them play live? On TV? Obviously any fan of the Kings wants all of our prospects to become NHL superstars, but what are these two specific players strengths? Weaknesses? I am a Hitmen Season Ticket holder and have seen Kozun play the last 3 years. I know what kind of player he is.

  9. Gann Matsuda says:

    I have seen both play. Teubert has played here in Los Angeles in two rookie tournaments against his peers and in a couple of games with the ECHL Ontario Reign (saw one of those games). He’s young and he still has a lot to learn, especially in terms of what Lombardi said about picking his spots. He also needs to improve his reads in the defensive zone.

    I’ve seen Kozun in two rookie tournament games here this past summer. Looks good, skill-wise, but was overmatched physically. He’s not going to get a whole lot bigger, so size is going to be a huge challenge for him. Unless he’s got another edge to help him overcome that at the NHL level, he’s not going to make it, and I’m not convinced that he does. Of course, we’ll have to see him at the AHL level, at least, before even coming to close to that conclusion. But if I had to guess right this second, I would say that he won’t likely be able to overcome the physical disdvantage he has at the NHL level.

  10. Jim says:

    I have watched Tuebert play quite a bit as well as they come to the Dome three times a year and agree with your assessment. Heard he has attitude issues as well, not something you like to see in the captain of a hockey club. Needs to become smarter with the puck, if he does he could crack the NHL. Kozun I have a different take. Hes dominated the WHL since he cracked the league 3 years ago. Hes been over a PPG player, including the playoffs. Also plays much bigger than his frame, being able to protect the puck from bigger players. Pierre Mcguire (who is rather annoying, but still a respectable hockey mind) stated on local radio here in Calgary that he is hockey strong, meaning a strong core and legs and there is definitely a place in the league for him. We will see, hes always been one of the more physically fit players on the Hitmen, or so Ive heard, among the leaders in Bench press etc… All bode well for him going forward I think. The Hitmen organization has a reputation for developing good players (Getzlaf, Alzner, Ladd). I think hes got a pretty good shot. You should watch some video of him floating around the internet, exciting player to watch and makes those around him better.

  11. Gann Matsuda says:

    We’ll see what happens as both players develop…

  12. Roger says:

    I am also a Hitmen season ticket holder. I have seen Kozun and Teubert play. Teubert is a cheap shot artist because his talent is moderate. IMO Teubert has issues. Easily distracted from the game. Kozun on the otherhand gets motivated the more he is told he “Can’t” or the more teams try to slow him dow. This kid has a sick 6th sense for the game. Rarely does he make a pass that doesn’t prelude a scoring chance or a goal. His size will always be a issue with him. If you ask him it’s not an issue. Fleury mentality. I would have taken Fleury this year as he tried ti make the Flames. He was in the top 20 in scoring in the NHL pretty much every year he played. How many players can boast about that stat? Kozun will be the same kind of player. Very motivated. “Loves” to play hockey. He is the kind of player that will make the players around him better! That is the kind of player you want on your team. Super competitive.

  13. Gann Matsuda says:

    As I said, we’ll see. Often times, what you see at lower levels does not translate to the NHL. But, for the Kings’ sake, one hopes that both of these kids succeed.

  14. Pingback: Frozen Royalty: Dean Lombardi On Colten Teubert & Brandon Kozun @ LA Kings Hockey Club Podcast

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