Had a chance to watch the LA Kings demolish the Winnipeg Jets last night. The poor Jets were stifled by the Kings top line but it was “That 70’s Line” that did most of the damage on the scoreboard.
Jeff Carter between Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson accounted for 3 of the Kings 4 goals while another “youngster” Drew Doughty picked up a couple of points as well.
That got me thinking again about how the Kings were built and how they will likely be perennial contenders as long as their current management team remains in place.
Anyone who has been paying attention will know that I’ve been trumpeting the abilities of Dean Lombardi for a few years now given his ability to draft, develop and trade his way to 2 Stanley Cups (and counting).
But, while Lombardi is IMO the best GM in the game, he’s got someone standing next to him feeding him ammunition while he plunders the league.
This is Michael Futa.
Here’s his bio from NHL.com
Michael Futa is in his sixth full season with the Kings as Director of Amateur Scouting. He was named to his current position on June 5, 2007.
Futa came to the Kings after five successful seasons as General Manager of the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), where he was named OHL Executive of the Year in 2005.
The Attack advanced to the post-season in all five seasons with Futa at the helm, and high profile players like Trevor Lewis (17th overall, 2006 NHL Entry Draft) and Wayne Simmonds (second round, 61st overall, 2007 NHL Entry Draft) played for Owen Sound during Futa’s tenure there.
Futa has also served as Director of Team Ontario’s Under-17 program for three seasons, and his Under-17 team won the gold medal at the Canada Games in 2007.
Futa was heavily recruited by the Vancouver Canucks last summer when Trevor Linden was looking for a new GM. The Kings responded by giving Futa a promotion and, one assumes, healthy raise to keep him in the fold. It could be the best money the Kings have ever spent. Vancouver then turned to Jim Benning who has a very similar resume to Futa’s….but Benning is a story for another day.
Futa hit the ground running at the 2007 draft selecting the following players who now have more than 100GP in the NHL.
1st round – Thomas Hickey -123
2nd round – Wayne Simmonds – 452
4th round – Alex Martinez – 206
4th round – Dwight King – 160
That’s 4 NHL players in one draft!
But Futa didn’t rest on his laurels.
The Kings drafted 2nd overall at the 2008 draft and had two first round picks, one of which was a whiff on Colten Teubert but they still walked away with 3 NHL players:
1st round – Drew Doughty – 445
2nd round – Slava Voynov – 187
5th round Andrei Loktionov – 155
Not bad…but more was to come in the 2009 draft.
* At this point it becomes a little more difficult to assess draft success just based on GP but we can still get a pretty good idea who may have been blocked in the King’s system by their embarrassment of riches.
1st round – Brayden Schenn – 195
2nd round – Kyle Clifford – 279
3rd round – Nick Deslauriers – 19 (blocked in LA but now a regular in Buffalo’s lineup)
4th round – Linden Vey – 20 (blocked in LA but now a regular in Vancouver)
6th round – Brandon Kozun – 3 (blocked in the LA but now a regular in Toronto)
7th round – Jordan Nolan – 136
WOW! It looks like the Kings drafted SIX NHL players in one draft.
If you’re playing along at home, you’ll note that, in Futa’s first 3 years as the head of amateur scouting, the Kings appear to have drafted 13 NHL players. I’m told average scouting should deliver 2 NHL players per season so the Kings are consistently destroying the averages.
But he wasn’t done yet.
The 2010 draft delivered Tyler Toffoli (75GP) while the 2012 draft has already yielded Tanner Pearson (28GP)
Things get a little murkier now due to it taking time for draft choices to develop but we’re starting to get some clarity on some other Futa picks.
Valentin Zykov was selected 37th overall in 2013 after the Kings traded a fistful of lower picks to the Edmonton Oilers…a trade the Oilers may regret in the future. Zykov is playing this season in the QMJHL (7GP 4G 6A 10P)
The Kings also selected Hudson Fasching in 2013 and Lombardi has since traded the college star to Buffalo for Brayden McNabb who was drafted by the Sabres in the 3rd round in 2009 draft and the 6’4″ 205 lb defenseman is now taking a regular shift on the Kings’ blue line. Win-win.
So, what does it all mean?
It means that Futa has given Dean Lombardi a huge arsenal of bullets to renew and re-invigorate his lineup for the foreseeable future.
Lombardi has, of course, traded many of those assets to plug the holes that used to exist in his lineup and to replace aging veterans like Willie Mitchell as their careers wind down.
That he can plug in players like Toffoli and Pearson on his second line gives us a pretty good indication that the Kings dominance is not going to end anytime soon.
A great read on the new wave of GMs here.