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Transcript: Yzerman says Sergachev, Koekkoek will get opportunity to replace Garrison

Transcribed for accessibility: Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman offers his thoughts on the players selected in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and plans for the off-season.

Question: How do you feel overall about the draft as a whole? You guys addressed some needs, it feels like.

Steve Yzerman: We don’t specifically go into it like trying to addressing a need. But all things being equal, we will do that. But we’re very pleased with – obviously last night we talked about [first round pick] Callan Foote.

All of our picks today addressed some needs. They’re players that we liked and kind of identified before the draft. When it comes to that spot in the draft, which players do we really really want and we were able to get some of the guys that we really wanted.

Question: It seemed like [second round pick] Alexander Volkov seemed under the radar to a lot of people. What do you like about him?

Yzerman: Well, you know what, as a player he’s a big strong, responsible right winger. A good two-way player, handles the puck well, has really good hockey sense. We really like the way he plays the game. He’s a big strong kid, he’s 19 years old. We really believe he fits into the style of play that we play.

Question: Does he still have a contract there [in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia]?

Yzerman: No…uh… To the best of our knowledge, he does not have a contract. [laughs]

Question: Another Russian, back-to-back there [the Lightning selected fellow Russian Alexey Lipanov in the third round]. He’s a center. What do you think about what he brings? He’s got a lot of skill, creativity.

Yzerman: Alexey [Lipanov] is a very intelligent hockey player. He’s got good skills. He’s really smart, very responsible two-way player. Again, he just kind of fits the mold of player we’re trying to bring in.

Question: Now that the draft is over, how active do you think you’ll be coming into next Saturday?

Yzerman: I don’t know. We’ll certainly have – with some of the things we’ve done, going back to last year’s trade deadline, we’ve got spots on our roster open.

We’ve got some cap space. We need to do the best that we can to try and sign our own free agents. We’re going to try and do that, so we’ll be focused on that.

We will look into some of the players in free agency to see if we can address some of our needs that way. So it’s going to be a busy week. What we actually accomplish, I’m not sure.

Question: You know Mikhail Sergachev is a great prospect. What does he have to show you to make the roster?

Yzerman: Just that he can play regular minutes. As a young player, we want him to play – any young player – we want him to be playing regularly in the lineup. Obviously we’re trying to win games, so we want any player to come in that is going to help us win games.

For a younger player like that, we don’t want him playing seven or eight minutes a night. We want him playing regularly. We’ll let the situation play out. We’ll give him an opportunity certainly to make the team and play, but he’s going to have to earn it.

Question: How much does the Calgary – Islanders trade show how expensive defensemen are in this league and just how hard they are to acquire?

Yzerman: Yeah, I mean – supply and demand.

Question: You picked two Russian players today in the second and third round, and also have Sergachev and many Russian players. What do you see in Russian players that others don’t see?

Yzerman: Well we really don’t care whether they’re Russian or Canadian or American. We want good people. We want people with character. We want good hockey players that are intelligent hockey players.

Where we were picking in this draft, in the second and third rounds, both players we felt were the best player with that selection.

Again, I don’t care where the player is from. The players are from all over the world. You had a player selected from France. Players are coming from all over the world now.

The game is growing. If we restrict ourselves or limit ourselves to only certain countries, we’re going to miss out on really good players.

Question: What do you think about Nick Perbix and Cole Guttman? I think they’re two captains, right?

Yzerman: Yeah, you know what – you can talk to [Director of Amateur Scouting] Al [Murray]. I haven’t seen those two players play. I know where they play, I know where they’re going next year. I think Al is going to come by and he can talk to you more about them.

Question: Steve, I was talking to Victor Hedman at the NHL awards and he was saying he’d be happy to be that guy that Sergachev can lean on and talk to about being a top young defenseman in the NHL. What is the value of that for a kid like that, you think?

Yzerman: Oh, it’s great. Like Victor is just entering the prime of his career. He’s gone through as a high draft pick with great expectations and just slowly worked his way up to becoming one of the best players in the league.

So he has a lot of the – all the experiences that Mikhail will go through. All the situations that he’s going to go through, Victor’s been through them so he can be a big help. And Vic’s a really really good guy, so he’ll be a real good role model for him.

Question: Steve, how do you feel about where your defense is right now? Do you feel like you’re set or do you feel like you need to add a little more if you could?

Yzerman: Well I would look at any way to improve our team.

Question: Do you like it the way it is?

Yzerman: Compared to what?

Question: Compared to what it was a month ago? [before acquiring Sergachev and losing Jason Garrison in the expansion draft]

Yzerman: Well, we lost a veteran in Jason, obviously. Mikhail Sergachev, Slater Koekkoek will get an opportunity to go in that role. Really the reality is in the league, at some point with the [salary] cap and – regardless of if there’s a cap, you’ve got to start to move your younger players into the lineup.

Are they ready to go this year? We’ll find out in training camp. If I can improve our defense, or our forward group for that matter, I’m going to look at doing that. Can I do it? I’m not sure. But if there’s an opportunity to do it, I will.

Question: Is there anybody you saw today that you were surprised to see still [undrafted] on the board at that spot?

Yzerman: Um… Lipanov was higher on our list than where we had him. Ultimately, we kind of – there’s a group of players with our second pick that had consideration, he was one of them. He was still there in the third [round] and we felt that it was too good of a value at that spot to pass on him.

Question: How do you think of where you’re at with some of your Restricted Free Agents like Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat?

Yzerman: We’ll continue to talk and again, I plan on getting them signed. I can’t tell you if that’s today or later on, but we’ll keep trying.

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