A couple of Michael Futa's buddies had talked up a kid they'd coached who was a natural scorer despite being a poor skater, so Futa, then the general manager of Owen Sound of the Ontario Hockey League, wanted to see the kid for himself.
"He was playing for the junior
When Futa became the
"Does he have the makeup of a kid? Does he need it enough? Does he want it enough? We always talk about doing the things necessary where his natural ability to just put the puck in the net will be translatable if he gets himself in the proper shape and gives himself a chance," Futa said.
Toffoli slipped unclaimed through the first round of the 2010 entry draft. The Kings, gambling that Toffoli had the drive to compete with the big boys, made a trade with Colorado to move up and choose him 47th.
Toffoli has justified the Kings' faith, another gem mined by a scouting and development system that has been the lifeblood of the club's rise since General Manager
"Dean brought us in as a group and told us, 'We're not going to put any Band-Aids on this. We've got to draft well. We've got to develop well,' " Futa said Sunday. "He said, 'One day you're going to walk in and turn on the TV and you're going to see the guys you drafted and then you're going to feel an all-encompassing satisfaction.' "
That day arrived when the Kings won the
Toffoli has combined with 2012 draft pick Tanner Pearson — whose fitness and work ethic also were questioned — to flank center
Futa's success hasn't gone unnoticed. The
"I think he is the perfect guy for the job," Lombardi said.
Scouting remains an imperfect science. The kid who scores 100 points in juniors might be too small to succeed in the NHL, just like the can't-miss baseball prospect who is fooled by major league curveballs and soon needs a new career plan.
The Kings have been unable to capitalize on some prime picks during Lombardi's tenure —
They traded useful winger
Futa said there are many more top prospects in the pipeline, continuing Lombardi's mandate.
"You don't want to be good for just one year. ... You want to be good every year," Futa said. "There's going to be years it's going to be tough. Look at our conference. We could have been gone. We were down, 3-0, to San Jose.
"A lot of things have to be right but this team has the ability to compete for quite some time with the young guys we have ready to come up and fill holes. So it's pretty cool."