Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/25/14 at 10:25 AM ET
ESPN's Scott Burnside penned a fascinating article about the NHL draft as witnessed through the eyes of general managers and assistant general managers, including Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Claude Loiselle, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen, Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon, Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald and Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill.
Nill suggests that, at some point, the management staff has to relinquish control to the amateur scouting staff and hope for the best:
Nill was at the Detroit draft tables when the Wings repeatedly came up with the proverbial diamonds in the rough: Datsyuk with the 171st pick in 1998; Zetterberg at 210 in 1999; Tomas Holmstrom at 257 in 1994. The Red Wings rarely drafted anywhere near the top of the first round thanks to their winning ways during that time, but the mandate was still the same, Nill said: Find good players who could help the team, no matter where the Wings were drafting.
"Those were special players. But at the time we didn't know that. You don't know it until three or four years down the road," Nill said.
This year's draft will be Nill's second as the GM of the Dallas Stars. It has been a period of evolution for someone who used to be one of the guys who put eyes on hundreds of youngsters at hundreds of games every season. Living in Detroit, he could see junior, college, AHL and NHL games all within a few hours' drive. Not so in Dallas, and his job description precludes those kinds of trips anyway.
Just as longtime Detroit GM Ken Holland had to trust Nill and his scouting staff to identify the right players for the Red Wings, Nill now has to step back and convey that trust to the Stars' staff.
"I had to hand over the reins," Nill said. "If you're going to be a manager, you're going to have to let it go."
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