Tyler Toffoli is blossoming into the top-six scoring prospect the Los Angeles Kings have sought for so long.
Over the last few years, the Kings’ lineup has been infused and buttressed with talent from its AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. Its star goaltending tandem, Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier, both came up after spending multiple seasons in the minors. Critical depth forwards Dwight King, Trevor Lewis, and Kevin Westgarth, as well as defensemen Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez, and Davis Drewiske all began their careers in Manchester. But there has long been a hole in the Kings system – they have never had an elite scoring forward that could step into a top-six role in Los Angeles.
That may be changing. Toffoli, touted since he was drafted as a pure goal-scoring right-winger, is succeeding in his first full professional season. Despite his prolific statistics in juniors (165 goals and 336 points in 255 games), critics pointed to poor skating as a reason his development might slow. But Toffoli, at least initially, has shown that he can produce at the next level. Thus far in Manchester, Toffoli leads the team in goals with 10 through 25 games, which puts him on pace for a 30-plus-goal campaign. The Monarchs have not had a 30-goal scorer since Brian Boyle potted 31 in 2007-2008.
While the Kings have recently solidified their top two lines with the acquisitions of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, Toffoli affords the Kings the organizational depth they were severely lacking in the last couple years. As the lockout continues, the Kings front office will be closely tracking Toffoli’s development – he figures to be the next Monarch in line to make an impact with the big club once NHL hockey resumes.