Fighting to eventually win two Stanley Cups is worth the cost of taking risks, but the Los Angeles Kings’ farm system has seen consequences from regular trade deadline moves.
Jewels From the Crown took a look at how much shallower the Kings’ prospect pool has become, something that seems clearer after the very clear graduations of scorers Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.
That said, there are still a couple prime-age players looking to make a dent on the NHL roster, including forward Jordan Weal.
It’s about that time for Weal. The 23-year-old was a third-rounder (70th overall) back in 2010, and he’s shown a solid knack for putting up points at the AHL level.
After scoring 70 points for the Manchester Monarchs in 2013-14, he nearly matched that output last season with 69 points. He really took off during the 2015 Calder Cup playoffs, scoring 22 points in 19 postseason games.
Weal thinks he has what it takes to take the next step, as NHL.com noted during his strong AHL playoff run.
“They have a great team up there and it’s really a great organization,” Weal said. “I can’t ask for more. They’ve given me lots of opportunity to play pro and get drafted and I think I’m ready to take the next step and play with them. But you never know. It’s tough to crack a team like that.”
Unlike Nick Shore and Andy Andreoff, Weal has yet to get his first taste of NHL action. The 2015-16 season represents his best chance to change that, especially after a strong finish with the Monarchs.
The Los Angeles Kings have moved to suspend Slava Voynov for his Achilles injury that he suffered during his indefinite NHL suspension, per LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen.
While the Kings suspending Voynov as well might seem redundant, it does give them a certain degree of cost certainty. As long as his nearly $4.2 million annual cap hit is off the books, the Kings have about $60 million committed to 16 players, which is a decent amount of space going into free agent market. Los Angeles still has restricted free agents to re-sign including Tyler Toffoli and Martin Jones, but now it will be easier for the squad to make moves beyond that.
He’s reportedly being suspended because the Kings believe that his injury isn’t hockey related, a point which Los Angeles assistant general manager hinted at when the subject came up back in April.
“It wasn’t at the rink,” Blake said regarding the injury, per the Los Angeles Times.
It is worth noting though that Kings GM Dean Lombardi previously stated that “they’re shooting for the middle of training camp” for Voynov’s return, according to the Orange County Register. Although he also compared the situation to that of Tanner Pearson’s in the sense that the Kings forward was ultimately sidelined for longer than anticipated.
LA Kings VP of hockey ops Mike Futa, considered to be in the mix for Toronto’s vacant GM gig, isn’t going anywhere — at least according to GM Dean Lombardi.
“Mike Futa is still a Los Angeles King and will remain a Los Angeles King,” Lombardi said, per LA Kings Insider. “You don’t think the guy could jump ship now, right?”
Lombardi’s comment came while Futa prepped and continued scouting for the NHL Entry Draft, which will go later this month. Scouting is how Futa established such a strong reputation across the league — in his eight seasons with the Kings, he headed up a department responsible for drafting the likes of Drew Doughty, Kyle Clifford, Alec Martinez, Slava Voynov, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. (Jake Muzzin, an undrafted free agent, also came aboard under Futa’s watch.)
As mentioned above, Futa’s been tied primarily to the vacant GM gig in Toronto. But according to TSN, teams have tried in the past to lure him out of Los Angeles — Buffalo and Calgary during their GM searches — and the Kings responded with a promotion, new contract and stipulations about what jobs he could seek out.
Which probably explains why Lombardi was so adamant Futa wasn’t going anywhere.
“There’s a big challenge ahead of us,” he explained. “I don’t think [Futa’s] had time to think about it. He’s been going a hundred miles an hour.”