With homegrown youngsters Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson piling up the points in these playoffs (they have 10 each in 17 games), it’s no wonder the Los Angeles Kings are getting grilled by reporters about their successful drafting and developing methods.
Yesterday, coach Darryl Sutter was asked if there was a “common trait” that he’d noticed in the players’ progressions from prospects to key contributors.
“What they have to do is learn how to train,” Sutter said, per LA Kings Insider. “They have to train to be an NHLer first and foremost, because they’re drafted when they’re 18 and they’re boys. … First off, they have to do that, and then I think an adjustment when they turn pro is learning the pro lifestyle, and they should learn it at the American League level first, and then the next part of that is the adjustment from the American League level to the National Hockey League level in terms of how you practice.”
Toffoli and Pearson are each graduates of the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester. Ditto for Dustin Brown, Trevor Lewis, Dwight King, Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick.
Which is why a team like Pittsburgh is focusing on scouting and player development in its search for a new general manager. It’s hard to win a Stanley Cup without doing those things successfully.
Like the Kings, the Chicago Blackhawks have drafted and developed well, and it’s paid off with two championships since 2010. And just look at the success the New York Rangers — one win away from the Cup Final — are enjoying with the help of their AHL graduates, including Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Chris Kreider, and Mats Zuccarello.
“Most of the kids are going to get stronger and get bigger, and then the lifestyle, that’s a big one,” said Sutter. “And then it’s not just to play here; be able to help your team.”