This season, Tyler Toffoli went from top ranked prospect in the Kings organization to seeing time on the team’s second line in the NHL playoffs.
It’s been a somewhat linear development, with a consistent upward trajectory, compared to most other players though. He scored 57 goals in the OHL, won the scoring title, followed that up with a 52 goal season for the Ottawa 67’s, turned pro, lit up the AHL, made the American League All-Star Game, was named AHL Rookie of the Year, had a few call-ups and poof – turned into one of the key players for the Kings in the post-season.
Yet, some still want to know, is he for real?
For example, there’s been a knock on his skating – something that he’s dismissed as those people not knowing what type of game he plays.
There were knocks on Luc Robitaille’s skating ability too. All he did was score more goals than any other left wing in NHL history.
Along with Andy Andreoff and Tanner Pearson, Toffoli will draw the most attention at Development Camp this week. He’s projected to be a full- time player for the Kings next season; and along with Jeff Carter, could challenge for the team’s goal scoring title in the upcoming campaign.
Yes, he’s that type of sniper.
However, the 21-year old right wing could also see a position change. With a team loaded up on the right side, coach Darryl Sutter and crew might need to move him over to left wing temporarily. How will that change his offensive contribution, if at all? Nobody knows just yet.
One thing is clear though, he’s poised to be the first high-end forward to come through the Kings system in quite some time.
Here are seven questions with Toffoli..
There was a lot of adjustment for you last year – turning pro, shuttling back and forth between the AHL and the NHL, etc. – when you look back on things now, what do you make of it all?
“It was incredible. It was a lot of fun. Starting in Manch at the beginning of the year, it was my first pro season and I didn’t really know what to expect. Then it all kind of started and just kept going and I finished the season in LA and I don’t think I could have finished it in a better way, other than winning the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately we came a little short. But, overall, I think it was just a lot of experience. It was good to get in to play- and not only in the playoffs, but to play in the NHL was kind of a dream come true, sort of. And to help contribute a little bit, it felt pretty good.”
Will it be a little weird in Development Camp this year, in the sense that you’ve already made the NHL?
“No, there is going to be a lot of guys from Manch there. It’s like this every year. Like last summer, some guys had played a full season in Manchester and they were the older guys. That’s just the way it goes with LA, it’s how they bring all their players up. It’s an exciting time to get back into hockey though and after this, you really know that it’s time to bear down and work really hard with training and skating and getting back into everything.”
What’s been the biggest improvement in your game over the past few years?
“I think everything. I think once you get drafted it’s kind of a wake up call, so to speak. You have to work hard because you have to earn a lot. It’s not just in Los Angeles it’s in Manchester or wherever, so you have to really start working and you have to earn your spot… I’m just happy that people are realizing how hard I’m working. I think I’ve come a real long way from when I was drafted. It’s been a long ride and I keep getting better and coming into training camp this (September) I’ll be trying to make the team.”
Worse case scenario, what if they sent you back to Manchester to start next season?
“It would be hard. But at the same time, I’d know that I have to be better. I wouldn’t have had the best training camp and I’d just have to get better everyday and hopefully I’d get called back up.”
The top two names in camp are probably you and your linemate in Manch, Tanner Pearson. How competitive will you guys be?
“I don’t know. I think everyone is going to be working hard, everybody is kind of getting back into skating and stuff. I don’t know if it will really be a rivalry. I think more going into September, that’s where you really have to earn your spot. I don’t think you’re making the team out of Development Camp. I think the organization just wants to see where you’re at and they want to analyze how you’re going. So, we’ll both just be working hard, trying to get better and trying to learn everything they’re teaching us.”
Talk about the rumored ‘left wing’ experiment – Dustin Brown made the move from the right side over to the left, have you talked to him about it at all to see if he has any pointers for you?
“Yeah, a little bit. I talked to him about it and just asked him a couple of things- what he does in certain situations. He helped me out a little bit. It’s obviously good to talk to a guy like that who has been really successful at switching… But, I don’t think it really matters where they play me. I’m going to work on both sides the rest of the summer and work on everything and see how it feels. If they want to test me out on left wing, that’s where I’m going to play. I have to make the team first. Then, wherever they put me, I’ll play.”
New Kings’ draftee Zac Leslie told us he trains with you in Ottawa. But, he also suggested he’s going to get in on the tanning fun with you and Andreoff here in LA…
“He doesn’t know how well I tan in LA. Andy and I are going to be at the beach and by the pool all week, we’ll see if he is going to beat us. We’ll see if he can beat me. He’s got to beat me first, then Andy.”
Now that Toffoli’s ‘graduated’ to the NHL, somebody else is going to have to step up and take the mantle at the front of our Top Ten Prospect Rankings. Who will it be? There’s still a few months left to figure it out, but here’s the list as of January 2013.
We’ve also had tons of Toffoli coverage since he joined the Kings organization in 2010. For your convenience, a few of the most popular articles are linked down below – along with several other DevCamp interviews, in case you missed any of them.
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