Futa and Leafs could still be a match

If I was a gambler, my money would probably be on Mark Hunter to be the next general manager of the Leafs. Thing is, I’d be betting on an underdog because the odds-on favourite right now appears to be Mike Futa. 

Last week I passed along a quote from Dean Lombardi where he said his assistant wasn’t going anywhere this summer. The Leafs had been linked to Futa, among others like the Rangers’ Jeff Gorton, since the end of the season.

“You don’t think the guy could jump ship now, right?” Lombardi said, which sort of sounded a like he was talking indirectly to Futa rather than about him. He was trying let us all know Futa won’t abandon the Kings in a major time of need, but now I’m not so sure that’ll be the case. In fact, there’s probably no better time for him hop overboard.

Somewhat surprisingly, as of yesterday Bodog had Futa atop their list for “Who will be the Leafs’ next general manager?” as the favourite, ahead of Mark Hunter (who already works for the team).

  1. Mike Futa – 5/4
  2. Mark Hunter – 3/2 
  3. George McPhee – 5/2 
  4. Julien Brisebois – 9/1 
  5. Jeff Gorton – 12/1

[You can find the odds here, along with more fun prop bets like “Will Phil Kessel be a Leaf at the beginning of the 2015-16 season?”]

Trying to pinpoint exactly what information odds-makers are going on to create these betting lines is impossible, but it makes sense that in this most-recent iteration, Gorton has been shifted to being a big long shot. The Leafs have reportedly been shut out from interviewing him since the Rangers were eliminated last week, feeding more speculation Sather will move on and let him take over in New York going forward.

But back to Futa. Lombardi’s insistence that he can’t flee the team right now is probably correct, but it might not be that way in a few weeks. 

From a piece by our own Thomas Drance back in March, outlining compensation for snagging a front office person from another club:

…if it’s an offseason hire for either a president of hockey operations, a GM, or a head coach – it’s a third round pick that goes the other way for a guy that’s under contract. If it’s an in-season hire then it’s a second round pick, so you think most teams would wait….For a coach the season ends as soon as his season ends, but for a GM or a president of hockey operations, the draft is the cut off line for in-season/off-season.

That last part is particularly important because it’s the difference between giving up a second-rounder or third-rounder if the Leafs simply hold off until after the draft. This Futa dream isn’t dead yet. 

But why would Futa even want to leave? He’s had a good thing going in Los Angeles save for this past season, including two Cup rings in the last four years. 

Well, that may be it. He’s helped build up a near-dynasty under Lombardi, and now he could go try to do it elsewhere, this time with his own name all over it. Plus, reading the headlines and seeing the Leafs just made Mike Babcock the richest coach in league history likely doesn’t hurt. Who knows what they’ll spend on a manager they’re keen on.