Despite having a draft coming at some point in the next few months, the Los Angeles Kings are parting ways with assistant GM Mike Futa, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. Futa has been rumored as a candidate for GM positions in the past, and will now be allowed to speak with other teams about a new position (as long as they receive official permission from the Kings, according to Friedman).
It’s been more than a decade since Futa joined the Kings, taking the position of co-director of amateur scouting back in 2007 following his run as GM of the Owen Sound Attack. He was promoted to vice president of hockey operations in 2014, before being named AGM in 2017. A well-respected scout, Kings GM Rob Blake explained exactly why he was promoting Futa at the time:
Mike has made tremendous contributions to our hockey club over the years and he will be one of several people we are going to internally lean on. He and his department have enjoyed success here both with the NHL Draft and the Ontario Hockey League in particular, and we look forward to additional success in the immediate future.
Notably, the Kings leaned on that knowledge of the OHL just a few months later when they selected Gabriel Vilardi with the 11th overall pick. Akil Thomas and Arthur Kaliev, both picked in the second round the following seasons, are two other OHL players that look to have promising futures.
While no scout ever hits on all of his picks, the collection of prospects Futa has built over the last few years is almost unrivaled. In fact, Scott Wheeler of The Athletic (subscription required) ranked the Kings as the top prospect pool in the entire NHL just a few months ago, indicating that they were the “clear-cut” choice at No. 1. Futa can’t be credited for all of it, as Mark Yannetti is actually the team’s director of amateur scouting, but he was definitely involved.
There will surely be teams interested in bringing Futa aboard, but the timing of such a hire will be interesting. It may be possible that he has to wait until after this scouting season is over, though it is unclear when exactly that will be.