Toffoli, Pearson pass test in L.A.

Playing on a line centered by veteran star Jeff Carter, the two kids are part of the next generation for a Kings team intent on contending for a long time. Alec Martinez (26), Jake Muzzin (25), of course, Slava Voynov (24) and the great Drew Doughty (24) are part of that youth movement as well.

This is a well-run organization that has drafted and developed players the proper way. There's lasting power in what they're doing.

But it requires patience.

In the case of Toffoli and Pearson, both prospects were identified by Mike Futa, the Kings' director of amateur scouting. There's obvious pride in his voice, seeing both young players succeed.

"They've had to earn the coaches' trust and they're still chipping away at that," Futa told on Wednesday. "It's nice to see at times [coach] Darryl [Sutter] has them out in some strong defensive areas, they've won the confidence of their coach. To be able to go into that kind of situation we were in San Jose, which you couldn't have a more hostile environment, and him having the ability to throw those kids in that situation and for them to not only be in that situation but also succeed, it's huge for the confidence of the coach and for them as young players."

Always a natural goal scorer, Toffoli went 47th overall in the 2010 NHL draft. Pearson is quite a story; he was passed over in two NHL drafts before the Kings took him in the first round -- 30th overall -- in 2012.

"He was pretty close to being a late-round pick the year before but it's not something a scout is supposed to really be saying," Futa said with a laugh. "You end up taking him in the first round the next year. But that summer [2011], I challenged him a lot and so did the Barrie Colts, to take his conditioning a lot more seriously. To his credit, it's one thing to be a late bloomer, it's another thing to almost make a lifestyle change. He bought into that and he was rewarded for it."

Pearson broke out in the 2011-12 season with 91 points (37-54) in 60 games with the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts.

"Not being drafted those first few years, I just didn't want my career to come to an end," Pearson said. "So I knew that one summer there had to be a big push, and it kind of clicked for me."

Futa already knew the Pearson family well and was intent on selling the forward to the rest of the Kings' scouting staff for the June 2012 draft, despite Pearson being an older prospect.

"As a staff, we were unanimous on picking him," Futa said. "I gave him a wink on the way up to the stage, I think he knew it was coming. And it was a nice thing, I've known the family for a long time. I had no doubt he would put in the work, and he has.

"It's a nice story. Some kids pack their bags and go home when they're not drafted. In his case, he met all the different challenges put forth to him."

While Toffoli's road here is more traditional, he still had to work on his skating to improve his chances.

"Oh, absolutely," he said. "I've been working hard on it, every summer. Not just skating but just being stronger. And being stronger has helped my skating."

Futa has known Toffoli since his minor midget days.

"All he's ever done is score goals. All people have ever done is knock his skating," Futa said.

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