Tyler Toffoli has only spent one complete season in the NHL, but he's already been a fan favorite for years. After drawing draft day comparisons to former King Luc Robitaille, Toffoli has not stopped warming the hearts of fans everywhere.
In his young career, Toffoli has already produced plenty of noteworthy moments. In fact, he's produced such a variety of them that organizing them and classifying them is actually somewhat difficult. Sure, his spectacular shorthanded goal against the Edmonton Oilers was a sight to behold, but it was against the Edmonton Oilers!
Quantifying greatness is mostly what we're about here at Jewels from the Crown, so it comes as no surprise that I spent
like 4 minutes most of my summer fine-tuning an advanced metric to tell you just how great Tyler Toffoli is.
What goes into greatness? CUPCAKE.
- CUP - There is no greater achievement in North American hockey than winning the Stanley Cup. To be a truly great play, it seems that the play in question must bring about a greater likelihood of producing a Stanley Cup victory.
- CA - This stands for Creativity and Artistry. Greatness must be a treat to watch. It must be a thing few people would even dare to try and even fewer capable of pulling off.
- KE - This stands for Knowledge and Education. You might be saying to yourself, "hey, aren't those things basically the same?" I would say back to you, "this is why you will never receive a high CUPCAKE rating." Greatness isn't just artistic, it takes true ingenuity to achieve. Sometimes a simple and smart play is a better choice than something more brash and flashy. The ability to discern which play is best absolutely factors into one's greatness.
We'll arbitrarily assign up to 10 points in each category and suss out just how much CUPCAKE each play is worth.
5. Tyler Toffoli vs. the San Jose Sharks, Part 1
Tyler Toffoli showed that he was going to have a knack for playoff heroics and good, old fashioned Shark-breaking pretty early in his career. In 2012, Toffoli's rookie year, the Kings had just tied game 2 against the Sharks very late in regulation. Toffoli wasn't going to settle for overtime, though. Using a Kings manpower advantage to his benefit, Toffoli barged past a defender down the wing. With little room to work, another defender still in the way, and Trevor Lewis on the opposite wing, Toffoli turned the opposition on its head by intentionally sliding a low shot to the far post and off the goalie's pads in search of a bounce. Lewis buried the resulting rebound to put the Kings up 2-0 in the series.
CUP: 7/10. It greatly increased the Kings' chances of winning the series, but winning game 2 of round 2 leaves you a long way from a Stanley Cup.
CA: 2/10. Though there is beauty in its simplicity, it isn't the most visually appealing play we will ever see.
KE: 9/10. This was a veteran play made by a rookie. He left a bit up to chance, but this was the only way to get the puck to Trevor Lewis and he pulled it off. One point knocked for relying on Trevor Lewis to score a goal.
4. Tyler Toffoli Ruins the Oilers
This is, without question, the most beautiful goal of Toffoli's career. It is one of the prettiest Kings goals of the past 10 seasons. With the Kings shorthanded, Toffoli led a charge up the ice. As he entered the offensive zone, he hit the brakes and backed across the middle of the zone. Defenseman Brad Hunt, perhaps distracted by Toffoli's curly hair and rosy cheeks, completely failed to take the puck off Toff's stick. In slow motion, you get a better sense of what happened: Toffoli expertly used his stick to protect the puck, then used one slight fake to settle the puck down and draw Hunt's stick out of the way. From there, Toffoli roofed a laser beam past Ben Scrivens to put the Kings up by 3.
CUP: 1/10. Scoring against the Oilers pretty much takes you out of this category. He gets a point for helping the Kings to a win.
CA: 10/10. This goal was true artwork. Poetry on ice.
KE: 8/10. Though very risky - a turnover almost surely would've led to an odd man rush going the other way - Tyler Toffoli knew that he was trying this against the Edmonton Oilers. In proper context, attempting the most ridiculous play possible was the best decision to be made.
3. Tyler Toffoli vs. the San Jose Sharks, Part 2
That Tyler has two entries against the Sharks on this list from two different post-seasons is somewhat hilarious, as he has only participated in two NHL post-seasons in his career. The Sharks are futility, and Toffoli is the opposite. With the Kings down 3-0 in the series, Toffoli was one of a number of Kings to put on a show in order to reclaim their rightful spot in the playoffs. In game 4, he picked up the game winning goal by batting in a point shot that rattled off bodies in the slot. In game 5, he again picked up the game winner, this time by finding himself at the end of an excellent play by Tanner Pearson. After receiving the puck in the high slot, Toffoli quickly ripped a wrister past Antti Niemi. Then, to cap things off in game 7, the same duo pulled the rope on the guillotine to effectively end the series.
CUP: 8/10. This trio of goals saved the Kings from an early playoff exit and sent them to round 2. Still a long way from the Cup, even if we know what happened next.
CA: 5/10. None of the goals were particularly beautiful - Tanner Pearson's passes were considerably better - but they helped make up one of the most gorgeous sights Kings fans have ever beheld.
KE: 7/10. All 3 goals showed Tyler Toffoli's most apparent skill: he knows where the puck is going to go next. He always manages to be in the right spot, whether it be at the goalmouth or at a soft spot in the offensive zone.
2. The Hat Trick
Hat tricks are always a memorable feat, but they are especially so on a team like the Kings where goals have often been few and far between. Then again, Tyler Toffoli achieving this milestone was always a question of when, not if. He finally answered that question on February 12th against the Calgary Flames.
CUP: 4/10. This was just a regular season affair against the Flames, but it moved the Kings closer to the playoffs - they were 5 points back of the Flames heading into the game. Though it was a far cry from some of the other heroics we've seen from him, it still had the potential to be a very meaningful performance.
CA: 9/10. On both bookends of the hat trick, Toffoli painted a prettier picture than most players in the league can even imagine.
KE: 10/10. All 3 goals were heady. In the first, he displays patience and knowledge of his surroundings; in the second, he's again in the right place at the right time; in the third, he simply outsmarts Jonas Hiller.
1. Tyler Toffoli Wins the Stanley Cup
Alec Martinez has rightly received plenty of credit for his game winning goals en route to the Kings' second Stanley Cup victory in three years; after all, he scored the goals. In both cases, however, Tyler Toffoli was there. For the actual Cup clinching goal, Toffoli showed us a play that he'd worked on just over a year prior. With Kings fans telling the world that they wanted the Cup, Toffoli received a pass as he entered the offensive zone. Quickly, he broke down the play: pressure at his back, a tired but hot goalie, and no way to feed the puck directly across to Martinez. He fired a low shot to the far post looking for a bounce, only this time he wasn't counting on Trevor Lewis.
CUP: 10/10. Obviously.
CA: 10/10. The goal itself wasn't particularly breathtaking, but he redeemed himself by reciting poetry just a few minutes later.
KE: 10/10. This is everything that's great about Tyler Toffoli. He made a simple, intelligent play that - based on his own experience - had a pretty good chance to work. It was likely the only play that could have resulted in a goal with these players in these positions on the ice, and he made it happen. Moreover, he didn't try to be a hero. He deferred to his teammates, because he knew that they could get the job done if put them in the right spot.
Do you think I missed something? Run your own favorite Tyler Toffoli moment(s) through the CUPCAKE system and tell us about it in the comments!