Nashville Predators: Philip Tomasino Should Be a Starter on Opening Night

Philip Tomasino (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
Philip Tomasino (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

With Nashville Predators Development Camp in full swing, we’re getting to see some awesome young talent showcase their skills as they prepare for a new season. For a rebuilding, or reloading, team like the Nashville Predators, this development camp has extra attention on it.

This camp roster is loaded with talent as the Predators prospect pool has continued to strengthen over the past couple of years into one that’s considered top-half in the NHL among many scouts.

Philip Tomasino is up there at the top of the list of players with the closest chance at being the Predators roster in 2021-22. And that’s not to say later on after the Predators have fallen out of the playoff race, but actually as soon as the season-opener against the Seattle Kraken on October 14.

Tomasino should be in Nashville Predators starting lineup on Oct.14

I’m here to tell you that barring some kind of major setback that has coaches worried, Tomasino needs to be in the starting lineup when we drop the puck for a new season less than two months from now. He’s dominated on every level he’s pretty much ever played in, and he has earned his NHL chance.

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I would have a much different philosophy on this if I thought the Predators were realistic Stanley Cup contenders and they were loaded with a core that we could trust. That’s just not the case. There’s plenty of open roster competition once you get past the top part of the depth chart.

The last thing you want is for Tomasino to hit a plateau in the AHL when he could be getting that valuable NHL experience, while also actually helping the Predators be a better team.

This isn’t just about getting Tomasino NHL reps as soon as possible. It’s about the likelihood that he’ll actually make this team better right away, especially in their puck movement and offensive attacks.

Check out Tomasino’s thoughts following the first day of development camp, courtesy of the team’s official account:

You just have to love the genuine confidence that you get from Tomasino at such a young age. He’s mature beyond his years and seems to carry that leadership role well. You should only expect that to develop even more, and Robby Stanley’s question was a great one that brought this response from Tomasino regarding his unique chance to play in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves last season:

"“To get that experience early was awesome. I feel like I’m ready to take that next step, and not only make that step, but also make a big difference on the team next year”."

There was also rumblings last season about Tomasino possibly making his NHL debut, but that was an entirely different situation with the taxi squad in play. That timing didn’t make as much sense as the team was suddenly making a playoff push, while Tomasino was getting that valuable AHL experience as he mentioned in the press conference.

It’s going to be intriguing to see what Head Coach John Hynes decides to do. Does he play it safe and start Tomasino off in the AHL again, this time with a loaded and very talented Milwaukee Admirals team? If that ends up being the case, expect Tomasino to emerge as the leading scorer of that team.

Tomasino unsurprisingly tied for the team lead in points last season for the Wolves, putting up 32 points in 29 games with a plus/minus of plus-20, and an impressive 14.3 shooting percentage.

Where Tomasino fits into the starting lineup

When looking at the current projected lineup for the Nashville Predators, their top-six seems fairly locked in. How you want to shuffle those pieces together in terms of line combinations is still very much up for debate.

Where does Tomasino fit in if he does make his NHL debut right out of the gate against Seattle? The third line seems like a good landing spot for him, and not at center, but at the wing. I’m still not sold on Ryan Johansen immediately being a top-line center, and there’s still the thought that Mikael Granlund and Matt Duchene will have centerman roles again.

There’s also Cody Glass in the mix who can play at center, along with Colton Sissons. That would be a young, but dynamic duo if you put Glass and Tomasino together, but also one that would most likely make their fair share of youthful mistakes.

There are a lot of options at center, and pairing Tomasino on the right line will be paramount to his early success.

Tomasino needs to start off with an experienced center who can maximize his scoring chances, so Johansen would be an awesome linemate for him.

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There’s no point in burying Tomasino in the AHL too much longer. He’s one of those rare talents that just naturally translates his game to the NHL. He’ll still take his lumps and make his early mistakes, but his ceiling is so high and I’m more than ready to see what he can bring to this every-changing Predators team.