July 1, 2013 9:43 am

Mike Futa on the draft process, draftees

I spoke with Los Angeles Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mike Futa on Sunday about the draft process and several players selected by Los Angeles in the middle rounds and came away with an interesting take on the Kings’ methods of moving up (or down, as the case has been in the past) in the draft by packaging draft picks.

On whether using picks to trade up and select a highly-sought after player in Valentin Zykov in the second round of a draft in which they did not possess a first round pick represented a pretty good example of what the team wanted to accomplish:
“Yeah. Again, everybody’s list is different. But he’s clearly a guy we had in a position where the alarms started going off. We actually had two defensemen that we really coveted that we were talking about taking late in the second round that we thought we might have to make a marginal jump up to, and Dean was working the phones for us to try and move up to address those defensemen, and then we kept looking at Zykov still being there. He’s a kid that he does a little bit of everything. He’s got the same agent as Slava. This kid is a bright, enthusiastic young guy. He dropped more F-bombs on the floor today than we could ever think of doing. So he’s got a lot of personality. Again, you hate to use it – there’s a Russian factor that scares you about kids using the KHL. This kid plays in a small market in Baie-Comeau. He scored 40 goals. He was the Canadian Hockey League rookie of the year. There’s still a lot of work, but that’s what we like about him, that from a physical standpoint, there’s still some growth. I mean, he’s 210 pounds. We know how much Darryl and our identity is heavy presence, heavy body. You’ve got a heavy presence, heavy body that’s not matured, not developed at the same tone that we need it at yet, and he’s got incredible tools. He doesn’t shy away from anything, and he’s got a North American personality, which has a great mix to it. So, absolutely. We threw it at Dean and said, ‘Let’s start packing some on here. Something we’ve really learned to do as a staff well, I think, is to climb up and down the latter, and to hit it – we actually just missed another guy that we were trying to package some picks with our second pick there, as well. But that’s what makes the draft fun, and this is a special kid.”

On Jonny Brodzinski:
“Tony Gasparini is just incredibly high on St. Cloud. We’ve actually had a really good history with St. Cloud, and he’s a goal scorer. He put up huge numbers in college hockey this year, like real special numbers. As you get later, everybody’s got some spots on them and stuff like that. He’s got to get stronger. He’s got to work on his skating, but there’s some serious offensive upside, so we’re thrilled with him.”

On Justin Auger:
“He’s actually an ogre. It’s a little Shrek-like presence to him. It’s a really good lead way. He’s like 6-foot-6. Skating is something he’s working on. He’s working with Barb Underhill. He’s a kid that continually gets better. His body fat’s down. But he’s got a great set of hands. He scored 20 goals this year. I think he’s a guy that there’s a bit more of a cap on I think expectations because of massive size early that there was going to be a lot more of a harder, physical presence to his game. He’s worked on that. He manages his game well that way where he doesn’t think that he has to fight all the time. He plays a good, honest, physical game, but has really nice touch around the net. He’s a guy that we saw last year – we saw…a game where he had a hat trick. Strong upside. Scottie Walker, who has obviously done a lot of things at this level, at the National Hockey League level, speaks extremely highly of him. So another kid we’re real excited about.”

On Zachary Leslie:
“Smooth skating defenseman…Another kid that went through the draft, which is something we have zero issue with, obviously. Last year he did exceptionally well with some depth. Got some really, really added minutes early in the year, and I thought he kind of fatigued down the stretch. But on nights, him and Andrei Pedan were their top, top D in Guelph. Again, I talked to Bill Stewart, and not only is he somebody that we liked and coveted, but based on the stuff that we learned from our face-to-face meetings, plus speaking to their coaching staff, we’re thrilled. You can’t have too many good skating, puck-moving defensemen, as we saw in the playoffs. The strength of the transition game now is so huge…again, there’s areas he’s got to work on, but he’s a young 19-year-old as far as his physical stature, and he’s somebody that we’re very excited about.”

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