On Tuesday we asked Kings coach Darryl Sutter for a mid-camp evaluation of prospect Tyler Toffoli. At the time, he repeatedly said, “He’s an impressive young player.” But the real nugget in his full commentary was this, “He’s certainly not out of place here.”
That may not mean much today, as the Kings have too many players as it is, but it’s certainly an indication of where the 20-year old right wing is on the development curve.
Following the completion of today’s practice though came the news most had expected from the time it was first announced Toffoli would be in LA this week, it was now time for him to rejoin the Manchester Monarchs in the AHL.
That wasn’t a knock on his abilities or what the team thinks of him, it was simply a numbers game at this point.
And it’s all part of the process, something Sutter tried to explain in his post-practice scrum today.
“This was just a little bit of a base for him to continue on his path,” the coach said. “He’s right where he should be as a first year pro. He’s got 18 goals in the American league, he’s a goal scorer and he goes down there and plays a lot. Plays the power play (too). It serves no purpose not to play here, not to play on one of the top three lines. For the kids there’s zero purpose for them (to stay here). And obviously, he’s come a long way since he was drafted. Not only in terms of the player, but in terms of learning to train. Now he’s a first-year pro, he’s had four months (in the AHL) and he probably needs at least that much more again.”
The last time Sutter coached a 48-game season he ended up using 21 forwards due to injuries and other reasons. So, having a kid like Toffoli ready to go could still become a factor later this year.
“It’s not about having somebody that can come up and play, it’s about somebody that can come up and help you,” Sutter stated. “He plays on a line down there with three kids, so it’s pretty awesome when you think about it, right? (Tanner) Pearson, (Linden) Vey and Toffoli – they could have all come to camp. We wanted five lines, not six lines or seven lines. It’s too far. For one practice it’s three days. It’s not like you can shuttle a guy, drive to practice and drive back. It takes three days (when you factor in all the travel time to and from Manchester).”
Regardless of the process involved, don’t be surprised to see Toffoli suit up for a few games with the Kings later this season. Using a schedule compressed into just 99 days, Sutter has said he’s expecting to use more players than what the Kings currently have on the roster – maybe not 21 forwards like he did in 1995, but more than the 15 currently in LA.
Last hour we heard Toffoli’s parting thoughts before leaving town. If you missed that article, click here to read now. It was the last interview he gave before heading to the airport.
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