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2014 Season Review: Tyler Toffoli

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Bruce Bennett


Tyler Toffoli Corsi, 2013-2014

GP Corsi Relative Corsi On Expected Corsi dCorsi
2013-14 62 9.9 22.84 12.319 9.848

Positives

If you're like me, the first thing you think of when Tyler Toffoli comes up is this picture of Toffoli celebrating in the Stanley Cup after game 5. But there's a lot more to Toffoli than just baby-faced adorableness: his performance at the AHL and NHL levels over the last few years indicates a rising star. Let's investigate.

Toffoli has recorded a stellar 44 goals in 77 career AHL games. That works out to an NHL equivalency of about 25 goals over an 82 game season, which is quite an accomplishment at such a young age. Based on these numbers (and a similar scoring prowess in the OHL), it's reasonable to think Toffoli could someday be a 30-goal scorer in the NHL when he hits his scoring prime. I wouldn't expect that next year - he's unlikely to get enough ice time on a stacked Kings team - but he has that kind of offensive upside.

After flashing some promise last year, Toffoli met expectations and delivered a major NHL impact in 2013-14. His ice time was typically limited to third-line minutes, and his linemates usually weren't the best the Kings had to offer (-.865 Relative QoT). He did receive a moderate zone start push to make up for that. All in all, he faced minutes of middling difficulty, basically identical to those of teammate Mike Richards.

Toffoli absolutely crushed those minutes. His 9.9 Corsi relative was third among Kings forwards. Of the 9 forwards to spent at least 50 minutes with Toffoli, 8 did better with him, and usually by a lot. The wonderful stats.hockeyanalysis.com has a neat way to visualize this:

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A way to look at these graphs is to imagine a straight line from the bottom left corner to the top right corner; if the bubbles (the sizes of which represent amount of ice time with Toffoli) are on that line, the player is not influencing the Corsi% of his teammates positively or negatively. If the bubbles are above it, the player is dragging down their Corsi%; if they are below it, the player is helping things. Toffoli is clearly doing well. Tanner Pearson in particular did much better with Toffoli than without in a small sample, which agrees with the common notion that those two have chemistry.

In terms of goalscoring, Toffoli's 29 points in 62 games is actually quite respectable given his lack of ice time. His 1.94 points/60 at even strength was third on the team and is a first-line rate of scoring. Toffoli attempted shots at a higher rate than any King not named Jeff Carter; if he keeps that up, he's going to score a lot of goals as his share of ice time increases.

Toffoli was also excellent in the playoffs, combining with Carter and Pearson to form a line that drove play and scored at very high levels. His 58.32% postseason Corsi led the team.

Weaknesses

I've mentioned Toffoli's lack of ice time several times in this article. Even in the playoffs, Toffoli was only 8th among Kings forwards in 5v5 time on ice per game, behind guys like Jarret Stoll and Dwight King. This is a bit of a puzzle because Toffoli obviously had much more to contribute offensively and wasn't a defensive liability, either. With Toffoli on the ice the Kings conceded goals against an incredibly low rate last season (thanks in large part to an unsustainable on-ice SV%), and they did well in terms of shots against, too. So it's not like Toffoli kept making mistakes that ended up in the back of the net.

Nevertheless, Darryl Sutter sometimes seemed unhappy with the rookie's two-way play, commenting in January that Toffoli "has to excel at the whole part of the game. You don't always have the puck." (Read the full quote here). That lack of trust probably showed up in Toffoli's light workload and somewhat sheltered zone starts; clearly, he has some work to do to gain the confidence of his coach in all situations. Given that Toffoli was a 21-year-old rookie last year, I'm not worried about this; I'm sure the trust will come in time.

Highlight


The knock on Toffoli has always been his skating, but that seems to have improved lately.

Going Forward

Toffoli will be a key forward for the Kings, but no one knows exactly where he'll line up. I'd like to see him remain on the second line with Pearson and Carter. It's a good bet that he bounces around and spends some of the season on the first, third, and fourth lines, too. He's an RFA after the season.

Grade

Toffoli's underlying numbers show great promise. He also played a key role in the playoff run and the whole cup thing. He was good. A.