This is the part where I remind you that Tyler Toffoli had played in ten regular season games and a dozen playoff games before we kicked off this series.
|3||04/24/1992||CAN||47 (2nd round), 2010
(Regarding the vote total: please remember that there were 10 voters, ranking from 25 to 1. Thus, the maximum possible vote total was 250.)
So Tyler Toffoli was ranked the unanimous #3 Los Angeles King under the age of 25 in our preseason voting. Every voter put Toffoli ahead of proven Los Angeles Kings and first-round draft picks and behind only two established current Kings (you know who they are, but I'll pretend there is some suspense). To start from the top, here's what Michael Futa told Rich Hammond after the 2010 NHL Draft:
Tyler Toffoli, you’ll have to wait to see how things play out with the kid. The knock on this kid was that he hadn’t really started to take his conditioning as seriously as he could. I think if you go back at look at his minor-midget days, when I was in the Ontario Hockey League, I think he had 120 points, 75 goals, along those lines, as a kid who was just kind of scratching the service in regards to the importance of conditioning... My scout from Owen Sound is his head coach, the same guy who was the guy on Wayne Simmonds. There’s always that tributary that leads back to the right river. He coaches him in Ottawa, and he said this kid is just scratching the surface, when you start to look at the intangibles and the work ethic. I’m assuming that’s why he dropped to where we got him.
We were thrilled to get the guy. His hockey sense is off the charts. He’s an exceptional goal scorer, great nose for the net, and he’s just a young kid who is still just getting it, as far as the conditioning.
So the problem was conditioning, and everything else was great. How'd he drop to 47? That's a question for someone else to answer. Regardless, he went on to lead the OHL in scoring the next season. Who were the previous leading scorers? Glad you asked.
2009-10: Tyler Seguin, Plymouth Whalers and Taylor Hall, Windsor Spitfires
2008-09: John Tavares, London Knights
2007-08: Justin Azevedo, Kitchener Rangers
2006-07: Patrick Kane, London Knights
Quite the list. Three number one picks, one number two pick... and Justin Azevedo, a familiar name. [EDIT: As Langluy mentions below, Toffoli did do it as a 19-year-old, while the aforementioned top picks did it as 17 and 18-year-olds before being drafted.] But enough about the past; Toffoli moved up, impressed in the AHL, and impressed in his first 2013 cameo. Which brings us to this season.
|2013 - Tyler Toffoli||4||4||8||5||0|
SECRET'S OUT! It's not an exaggeration to say that Toffoli's first full season could be the most exciting from an offensive standpoint since Anze Kopitar's back in 2006. Which kind of makes sense, because Dean Lombardi has caught a bunch of flak for not drafting a truly impressive forward prospect since he arrived. The play of Linden Vey and Tanner Pearson could make that point completely moot in the next year or two, but for now, Toffoli is Dean's defense against that claim.
(He also drafted Dwight King, who is a top-six forward now. Let it be known.)
Anyway, Toffoli is 21 years old. His biggest questions before his call-up were conditioning and speed; Toffoli's ice time has gone down the last few games, but he hasn't seemed too winded and the game definitely isn't moving too fast for him, is it? My preseason projection for Toffoli was 30 points if he ended up in the bottom six and 50 if he ended up in the top six. 30 points seems like it's the floor for Toffoli if he stays with the big club, but it still depends on his role. Still with King and Richards? Sure, he could keep producing, though a point-per-game pace might be asking too much. Down with Vey or Pearson or Frattin? Who knows. Richards and Carter? THREE HUNDRED GOALS. Lewis and Stoll? ZERO GOALS. Probably.
What makes Toffoli so exciting? His quick release (it's breathtaking, and that's not an exaggeration), his ability to get to goalscoring areas, and his willingness to shoot anywhere, anytime. Less exciting, but more helpful for his chances of staying with the big club, are the all-around abilities he's shown in the past few weeks. He's on track to be a fixture in the Kings' top six for years to come. Our apologies to Manchester... I don't think he's coming back.
More from Jewels From The Crown:
- Game Day #22: Kings-Lightning Preview
- LA Kings' Top 25 Under 25: #4- Jake Muzzin
- This Week in Kings (11/18/13)
- Kings @ Rangers: Grades and Analysis
- Kings @ Rangers Recap: Scrivens Gets 2nd Straight Shutout as LA Wins 1-0