|Rank||Player||DOB||Nationality||Drafted||Current League||2014 Rank|
|1||Tyler Toffoli||4/24/1992||Canadian||2nd round, 47th overall (2010)||NHL||2|
This article probably should have been published months ago with the rest of the Top 25 Under 25 series. But Jewels from the Crown's decision to wait and publish now makes us look pretty good, since Toffoli has been on an absolute tear to start this season, with his 10 goals in 18 games putting him near the top of the NHL leaderboard.
What's that you say? That even last year it was patently obvious that Toffoli was the best Kings player under 25, and Jewels from the Crown deserves no credit for reaching such an easy conclusion?
Well, that may be true. But let's take a look at some of the reasons why Toffoli was then and is now such a slam-dunk choice for the top spot.
1) He's in LA's system
This is a big reason. If Tyler Toffoli played for some NHL team other than the Kings, he would definitely not be occupying the top spot in Jewels from the Crown's annual Top 25 Under 25 series.
2) He's under 25
This is, if anything, even more important. If Tyler Toffoli were over 25, he would not be eligible for any Top 25 Under 25 list, let alone the number one place in Jewels from the Crown's. Fortunately, Tyler Toffoli is the tender age of 23, and should therefore have at least two years left before he reaches the no-longer-tender age of 25.
3) He scores, a lot
Toffoli has established himself as the most dynamic offensive talent the Kings have. Toffoli's 2.26 points/60 at even strength over the past three years is good for 17th in the entire NHL, and only Jeff Carter (2.17) comes close to that mark on the Kings. Toffoli is great at goal scoring (.91 goals/60, 42nd in the NHL) and has been equally good at generating assists (.84 primary assists/60, 35th). Moreover, Toffoli's production seems to some degree sustainable, because Toffoli backs up excellent personal shooting ability with a very high volume of shots. Toffoli's 18.08 shot attempts/60 are 19th in the NHL over the past three years, and just a tick behind Carter on the Kings.
Now, Toffoli has probably had some good fortune behind his point totals. His 9.15% shooting percentage at even strength over the past three seasons is about 1.5% higher than league average, and that may regress a bit (although it may be that Toffoli and Carter together can sustain slightly above average results). He is almost certainly due for some regression this year, as his current 10.26% on-ice shooting percentage isn't sustainable for anyone who isn't prime Sidney Crosby.
Working in Toffoli's favor, however, is the fact that the Kings are finally starting to give him proper amounts of ice time. Despite clearly being at worst the third best forward on the team, in 2014-15 Toffoli was only ninth among LA forwards in 5v5 time on ice per game. This year Toffoli has gotten a two-minute boost per game and is in a much more reasonable fourth place. Toffoli is awesome (even if he's not quite so awesome as he has seemed this year), and the more time he has to show that off, the better off the Kings will be.
Toffoli has also done great work shorthanded, where his six goals over the past two seasons lead the NHL.
4) His possession numbers are exceptional
Toffoli's 58.1% career Corsi over the past three years clears the high bar set by his team. Tellingly, over the past three years, all of Toffoli's frequent linemates (Jeff Carter, Dwight King, Tanner Pearson, and Mike Richards) have posted a better Corsi% with him than away from him, by an average of about 5%. It's true that Toffoli's good Corsi numbers come almost entirely from his offense (his shot suppression is nothing special), but overwhelmingly good offense and approximately average defense works out to a very good player.
5) He is adorable
Look at him! Awww. (Ignore the strange man in the Dodgers hat.)
6) LA doesn't have much young talent anymore
Seriously. Toffoli's competition for this spot was Tanner Pearson (a fine top six forward, if a bit unproven) and Brayden McNabb (whom we are all hoping against hope will turn into a decent second pair defenseman). Nick Shore was fourth on this list, and while Jewels from the Crown loves Nick Shore as much as anyone, that is an undeniably grim sign.
Now, LA has lots of good talent in their mid-20s (Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty can really hockey, as you may have noticed), and this current team is excellent. I'll take a good team now over a bad team with good prospects any day. But ideally you'd love to have a good team and good prospects, and as you probably gleaned from reading this series, the prospect cupboard is as bare as it has been in a really long time.
That was way too sober a note on which to end an article about Tyler Toffoli. My complaint is really not about him. He's awesome. He would be number one on a lot of team's lists. Please, enjoy a few videos of him doing amazing things.