Since he was drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2019, Philip Tomasino has been one of the more highly touted youngsters for the team and someone they have been counting on as a key part of their future. Last year, he finally got his chance to be a regular at the NHL level.
While Tomasino was never sent back down to AHL Milwaukee during his rookie year, there were a handful of games in which he was not in the lineup.
Additionally, Tomasino was never put in a consistent spot in the lineup, as whenever he would get a chance in the top six, he would be sent back down to the fourth line just a few games after.
However much blame you want to put on the Predators coaching staff, growing pains are normal for a rookie. Going into the coming season, we should expect a more polished, comfortable Tomasino, and the team will surely need it.
Tomasino must provide a spark to the Nashville Predators’ top six
In 2021-22, Tomasino tallied 11 goals and 21 assists in 76 games. Of course, he did this while bouncing from line to line all season and averaging only 11:32 of ice time.
With the talent Tomasino has, his expectations, and the player he has shown to be in the past, he certainly is off to a good start in the NHL. The continued hype around him is justified. We are going to get an even better sense of his potential when we see him play in the top six for at least the vast majority of 2022-23.
It’s nifty goals like Tomasino’s first career NHL goal last season against
that illustrates the raw talent he has that should lead him to a vital role on this Predators team as soon as this upcoming season:
While we do not quite know how Head Coach John Hynes will assemble the lines to begin the season, Tomasino almost certainly has to be playing on at least the second line.
Tanner Jeannot plays too similarly to Nino Niederreiter to make a line with them on either wing an optimal fit, and you would have to think Eeli Tolvanen needs to make some improvements before he is sent back up to the top part of the lineup.
Unless the Predators make another move this offseason, and even depending on what that is, Tomasino is going to be the man to step up.
Tomasino’s performance will be critical, because from the very beginning of the offseason, Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile stressed the need to improve the second line by giving Ryan Johansen much better line-mates. You do not want to set unrealistic expectations for your second-year player, but it is not a stretch to say that just how far the Predators go partly depends on Tomasino.
If Tomasino does not take a big step forward this year, it will likely be another year of just making the playoffs. If he progresses as everyone hopes, then the team has a much better chance of doing some legitimate damage.
Poile brought in Niederreiter to provide an upgrade to the top six, and doing nothing else shows that he has faith in Tomasino to be the other player to give them a jolt. He has to show the Predators that he was worth the pick they invested in him three years ago.
Predictions and overall consensus on Tomasino
As an individual player, there is every reason to still believe in Tomasino and his potential in this league. He showed he can be a great playmaker and as an overall offensive presence, he has all the tools to be a star someday.
In terms of the kind of role that fits Tomasino, he looked good alongside Johansen and Jeannot when they were given the chance to play together. The only difference is that Jeannot will be replaced by Niederreiter, who is a proven top six player and plays a similar style to Jeannot.
All things considered, we should expect to see a statement year from Tomasino in terms of his improvement, but to expect him to be a bonafide game changer is quite a lofty expectation. A fair prediction is for him to blossom into a legitimate top six forward, and record 26 goals and 31 assists in 82 games.
A 50-plus point season for the second full year in the NHL for Tomasino would be a huge success for the Nashville Predators. That would be around a 20-point increase in production, which is very much attainable.
Tomasino will not have reached star status after this year, but he will continue to impress and show why the Predators invested in him the way they did. If this happens and Niederreiter plays as expected, the team’s second line will be drastically better, and they will be a team you actually must respect come playoff time.