The continued success of forwards Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson has brought renewed attention to the
Michael Futa, who was the Kings’ co-director of amateur scouting for seven years before being recently promoted to the new position of vice president of hockey operations and director of player personnel, discussed some of the Kings’ plans and successes with The Times in this column. But space restrictions in newspapers being tighter than the
fit everything he said into print. So here are some other highlights of the conversation I had with Futa on Sunday.
Futa said Toffoli and Pearson had to adopt better conditioning habits before they could compete at this level, and they did. But both also had to do more than just score if Coach
"If Tyler Toffoli doesn't win Darryl Sutter over on how he's going to hang in on the walls and get pucks out on the walls, he's never going to get a chance to play for the Kings to show what he can do offensively," Futa said. "That's the kind of accountability that Darryl demands, and the
development team demands. They don't let kids take shortcuts.
"Then they get themselves in a situation on a big stage like this, their natural coolness, they don't look overwhelmed when you go into San Jose for a Game 7 because they're confident, they've won their coaches' trust, they've won their teammates' trust and all their natural instincts kick in because they've put the work in."
Futa said that when he goes to development or prospect camps, he can easily tell which kids have recognized the benefits of being in prime shape.
"I always laugh when I come down because some of them don't want to take their shirts off when they go shirts and skins, and then once they start to put in the work, some of them don't want to put the shirts back on," he said, laughing. "They want to show, 'Look at the work I've put in. Look what I've done.'"
Toffoli, he said, "is one of those kids that he's put himself in a situation now with the work he's put in….You look at men who are in the middle of their careers, as opposed to the kids who are just starting their careers, and if he wants to put in the work to another level the game is going
to continue to get easy for him to be able to do the stuff that nobody else can do."
Drafting and building from within are the only way to construct and maintain a consistent winner in a salary-cap era. Lombardi's mandate is to try and average 1 1/2 NHL players out of every draft, "and we're kind of well above that average," Futa said. "You've just got to keep working. Just as you say to players, we can never get complacent."
Futa credited the previous Kings regime, headed by Dave Taylor, with drafting
“The teams that are left—look at
"So it's pretty gratifying that way. That's the way it was set out to be done here. And I think they've done an excellent job of managing their cap and knowing what you can do and balancing it out. Sometimes you lose guys, and it's tough to do. But you've got to manage it."
Futa also said that in his new role he hopes to continue the strong relationship between the scouts and those in charge of developing players. "You try and put a product on that you know Darryl and the big boys are going to take and mold into the final steps of being a pro," he said. "It's a good synergy and it's thrilling for us to literally see that many guys make
Some guys won’t make it, including some who have been called up from Manchester (N.H.) of the