BERNE - Rob Laird has spent the last 15 years with the Los Angeles Kings, 12 with the pro scouting department. He’s seen plenty of talent compete throughout the world and is responsible for recommending players to the Kings who might one day become key contributors with the team. Laird has been following the tournament, both in Kloten and Berne. IIHF.com’s John Sanful spent some time talking with Laird about his approach to scouting players at this World Championship.
Who are you looking at here at the World Championships?
We have seven players here at the World Championships: Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson, and Peter Harrold for Team USA; Michal Handzus for Slovakia; Alexander Frolov for Russia; Drew Doughty for Team Canada; and Jan Marek from the Czech Republic.
What do you think about how your American players have fared so far?
Dustin has been a strong performer at the World Championships over the last two years. He shows great leadership qualities. Jack Johnson is a strong young man who is doing quite well here for Team USA. Peter has seen time here on defense and at forward. He brings a lot of versatility.
What are you hoping this tournament does for your players?
The most important thing is that these guys are playing important hockey in May. It is important to train your body and your mind for the playoffs. Since the Kings have not made the playoffs in a couple of years, we feel this gives players a good chance to compete late in the year and take part in crucial games.
Do you follow players who are not Los Angeles Kings property?
Of course. You have players who were drafted by teams but not signed. You look at them to see if they could possibly fit in what the team and what we’re trying to do. There are free agents who we’ll have someone scout them. If there is a possible fit, then a member of the North American staff will that a look and see if they are a possible fit.
What about your first-round draft pick last year, Drew Doughty? Can you assess his season and World Championship?
Drew really pleased us with his rookie season to make the team out of camp. But he did more than that. He led in Time On Ice (TOI) and was solid. We think he’s only going to get better.
What surprises or impresses you at this World Championship?
It’s something to see NHL players in this tournament who are put into different roles than they occupy throughout the season. This gives you an idea of what they are capable of doing, or not.