In a great piece on the ‘Shanaplan’ and the mass firings today by the Leafs, Bob McKenzie put forth the name Mike Futa as a good fit for the now-vacant GM’s role.

[quote_box_center]Los Angeles King exec Mike Futa is a name that will no doubt come up. When Buffalo and Calgary were looking for GMs, Futa was a prime candidate, but the Kings took him out of the mix, promoted him and gave him a new contract with some restrictions on when and what jobs he can entertain. Or not.

… He has an impressive hockey CV, dating back to his days as a general manager in the Ontario Hockey League, as well as his exemplary work, first as co-director of amateur scouting for the Kings and now vice president of hockey operations and director of player personnel. Futa has had working – and seemingly respectful – relationships with both Dubas and Hunter from their OHL days. At face value, not knowing any of his specific contractual restrictions or willingness to leave L.A., Futa could potentially be a perfect fit in Toronto.[/quote_box_center]

Futa, in his first year in the role of VP of Hockey Operations and Director of Player Personnel after a promotion last Spring, comes from a scouting background having served as the director of amateur scouting for seven years in LA, presiding over the following drafts for Los Angeles:

DraftNum.RoundPlayerPosDrafted FromGPGAPtsPIM
2013 Entry372Valentin ZykovRBaie-Comeau Drakkar [QMJHL]
2013 Entry1034Justin AugerRGuelph Storm [OHL]
2013 Entry1184Hudson FaschingRU.S. National Development Team [USHL]
2013 Entry1465Patrik BartosakGRed Deer Rebels [WHL]
2013 Entry1485Jonny BrodzinskiCSt. Cloud State [WCHA]
2013 Entry1786Zac LeslieDGuelph Storm [OHL]
2013 Entry1917Dominik KubalikLSudbury Wolves [OHL]
2012 Entry301Tanner PearsonLBarrie Colts [OHL]671582322
2012 Entry1214Nikolay ProkhorkinLCSKA Moscow [KHL]
2012 Entry1515Colin MillerDSault Ste. Marie Greyhounds [OHL]
2012 Entry1716Tomas HykaRGatineau Olympiques [QMJHL]
2012 Entry1816Paul LadueDLincoln Stars [USHL]
2012 Entry2117Nick EbertDWindsor Spitfires [OHL]
2011 Entry492Christopher GibsonGChicoutimi Sagueneens [QMJHL]
2011 Entry803Andy AndreoffLOshawa Generals [OHL]1821318
2011 Entry823Nick ShoreFU. of Denver [WCHA]3416710
2011 Entry1104Michael MerschFU. of Wisconsin [WCHA]
2011 Entry1405Joel LowryFVictoria Grizzlies [BCHL]
2011 Entry2007Michael SchumacherLFrolunda Jr. [Sweden]
2010 Entry151Derek ForbortDU.S. National Development Team [USHL]
2010 Entry472Tyler ToffoliROttawa 67's [OHL]14837468349
2010 Entry703Jordan WealCRegina Pats [WHL]
2010 Entry1485Kevin GravelDSioux City Musketeers [USHL]
2010 Entry1586Maxim KitsynLNovokuznetsk Metallurg [KHL]
2009 Entry51Brayden SchennCBrandon Wheat Kings [WHL]2745876134146
2009 Entry352Kyle CliffordLBarrie Colts [OHL]356283563483
2009 Entry843Nicolas DeslauriersLRouyn-Noranda Huskies [QMJHL]996101689
2009 Entry954Jean-Francois BerubeGMontreal Juniors [QMJHL]
2009 Entry964Linden VeyRMedicine Hat Tigers [WHL]9310192918
2009 Entry1265David KolomatisDOwen Sound Attack [OHL]
2009 Entry1566Michael PelechCMississauga St. Michael's Majors [OHL]
2009 Entry1796Brandon KozunRCalgary Hitmen [WHL]202246
2009 Entry1867Jordan NolanCSault Ste. Marie Greyhounds [OHL]194161329182
2009 Entry1987Nic DowdCWenatchee Wild [NAHL]
2008 Entry21Drew DoughtyDGuelph Storm [OHL]52466201267403
2008 Entry131Colten TeubertDRegina Pats [WHL]2401125
2008 Entry322Vyacheslav VoynovDChelyabinsk Traktor [Russia]19018638172
2008 Entry633Robert CzarnikCUS National Under 18 Team
2008 Entry743Andrew CampbellDSault Ste. Marie Greyhounds [OHL]3601110
2008 Entry883Geordie WudrickLSwift Current Broncos [WHL]
2008 Entry1235Andrei LoktionovCYaroslavl Jrs. (Russia)15522264822
2008 Entry1536Justin AzevedoCKitchener Rangers [OHL]
2008 Entry1837Garrett RoeLSt. Cloud State [WCHA]
2007 Entry41Thomas HickeyDSeattle Thunderbirds [WHL]2027414868
2007 Entry522Oscar MollerRChilliwack Bruins [WHL]8712142622
2007 Entry612Wayne SimmondsROwen Sound Attack [OHL]524139145284632
2007 Entry823Bryan CameronRBelleville Bulls [OHL]
2007 Entry954Alec MartinezDMiami University (Ohio) [CCHA]25929487762
2007 Entry1094Dwight KingLLethbridge Hurricanes [WHL]23837438062
2007 Entry1245Linden RowatGRegina Pats [WHL]
2007 Entry1375Joshua "Podge" TurnbullCWaterloo Black Hawks [USHL]
2007 Entry1847Josh KiddDErie Otters [OHL]
2007 Entry1887Matt FillierLSt. John's Fog Devils [QMJHL]

Futa started as an assistant GM and assistant coach for the Oshawa Generals before becoming the GM of the Owen Sound Attack for five seasons starting in 2002. In 2004-05, the Attack had their best season in franchise history at the time with a 40-18-7-3 record, for which Futa was awarded OHL Executive of the Year honours. While a perennial playoff team, the Attack never made it past the second round with Futa at the helm.

Among his most notable achievements with Owen Sound, he was credited with talking Bobby Ryan into taking the OHL route when he first arrived. He also convinced the undrafted Mike Giordano into coming to play for the Attack instead of attending York University in 2002. That worked out better than okay and Giordano later named him as the most influential person on his career.

NHLers to come from those Attack teams include Ryan, Giordano, Wayne Simmonds (Futa’s likely the reason the Kings later grabbed him in the third round), Josh Bailey, Trevor Lewis, Andrej Sekera, Bob Sanguinettii and Brad Richardson

For a regime that is going to be religious about emphasizing draft and development, he really does seem to fit the bill quite well on paper. It’s unlikely someone of Peter Chiarelli’s experience (just an example, should be become available), a proven winner in the GM’s role, is going to jump at an opportunity to answer to a rookie NHL exec in Shanahan, and on certain matters defer to a cast of assistant GMs he didn’t hire.

As McKenzie points out, the likes of Brad Treliving, Marc Bergevin, Jim Nill and Jim Benning all traveled this path in the recent past, going from the assistant GM’s role with successful organizations into the head GM role with project teams. The Leafs tried their hand with proven winners in Brian Burke and Randy Carlyle, while Nonis arrived with executive experience (in the GM’s role specifically) of his own. Experience isn’t always consonant with high-level competence.

Futa seems to walk a nice line amid all these considerations. He’s worked with an NHL team for eight years and that’s plenty more than the current Leafs front office personnel combined. He’s got two Cup rings to show for it. He checks a lot of the right boxes and seems to mesh well with what’s already in place.

As the Leafs front office seems to be taking on a more collaborative structure (the way many teams are going), one consideration is that his influence in Toronto may not be much of a step up from what he is doing in Los Angeles now, if at all given he was recently promoted to a significant role as the VP of Hockey Ops and the Director of Player Personnel. It’s not like he would be going to a team, taking the reigns and moulding things in his image. He would be expected to slide in and work within the hierarchy Shanahan has established with Kyle Dubas, Mark Hunter and Brandon Pridham.

But Futa is a Toronto native and still lives here for parts of the year, and there’s something to be said for the power of the title of GM. The team may suck currently, but serving as GM in the “Vatican of hockey” is a major honour and a draw to any competitive person in this line of work.

There will be many names batted around in the coming days and weeks in the search for candidates to replace Dave Nonis. We don’t have any clue as to his availability and at what cost it would come in terms of executive compensation, but Futa does seem like a pretty good one.

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