Nashville Predators: Examining Philip Tomasino’s Path Forward to NHL

Sep 30, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino (26) skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino (26) skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /

Let’s get one thing right, the Nashville Predators have not given fans reason to feel good about the team’s future. The Eeli Tolvanen saga was an absolute mess that will haunt them for awhile, and things are not trending well for the development of Philip Tomasino.

Tomasino has tremendous offensive talent and upside that he showed last year, and someone who records 32 points in 76 games playing fourth line minutes as a rookie should stay in the NHL.

However Head Coach John Hynes and the powers that be with the Nashville Predators decided that it was best for him to start the season in the AHL, and he has yet to come back.

Tomasino was expected by many to be the final element to the top six before the season began, so him not being in Nashville is among the many things hurting the Predators’ offense.

Another thing that is concerning is that quite frankly, most of us expected him to be back in a gold jersey over a month ago.

Will Nashville Predators bring Tomasino back anytime soon?

When you look at Tomasino’s performance on the surface, it has been about what you would expect. He has 24 points in 28 games, and has especially been on a tear recently.

One thing that Tomasino could stand to do a little better is taking penalties, as he has 18 penalty minutes (equal to nine minor penalties) in the games that he has played.

For someone who has proven to have the ability to produce offensively, which is supposed to be Tomasino’s main strength, I am sure that he had not given enough discipline and detail to certain areas of his game that need to be fixed before coming back to the NHL.

General Manager David Poile was recently asked about the possibility of Tomasino returning to the lineup, and he actually hinted that it could be soon, per 102.5 The Game’s Robby and Rexrode Morning Show.

Two weeks later, and still nothing has happened, so everyone is wondering what the team could be waiting on.

Most likely, the Predators are still wanting Tomasino to improve on whatever he has been having to work on since being sent back down to the minors. We can tell at this point that whatever the coaches saw before the season was not small, and they are probably wanting to be extremely thorough with it before they are comfortable sending him back down to Nashville.

But when Poile says “who knows if we can do that,” it also makes you wonder just how feasible the Predators view his addition to the lineup. It sounds in theory as if doing so should be easy, but when you look at their roster, there are some legitimate questions to be answered.

Is Tomasino a Realistic Fit to this current Preds lineup?

The Predators called up Juuso Parssinen and Tommy Novak from Milwaukee during this season, and it does not look like either is going back anytime soon. Of course, those two have done almost nothing but good since entering the lineup and are part of the youth movement that so many fans have been clamoring for.

But the ripple effect that they have had is very noticeable, especially since both have only played at center. The team has a clear logjam at the position, and it is affecting everyone, including guys like Tomasino who are going to play on the wing.

Ryan Johansen, Cody Glass, Mikael Granlund, and Colton Sissons were playing down the middle to start the season, and now only the former two are still doing so.

Granlund and Sissons have been playing considerable top six minutes on the wing, and if the Predators view Tomasino as exclusively a top six winger, which they very well might, then they are going to have a tough time making room for him.

There is no way that they are just going to scratch Johansen and Granlund with the contracts they are under, and they will not scratch Sissons for much of the same reason, and Glass has been forced to sit during various games of the season even though he should be nowhere near the bench. That could be why the team wants him to keep getting quality time playing in Milwaukee as opposed to coming to Nashville when the opportunity is not the best right now.

The Predators were also just recently starting to hit their stride offensively, and it makes sense that Hynes would not want to break up the momentum that they just had by inserting Tomasino. That being said, they have started to cool off a bit in the most recent contests, so who knows if that is much of a factor anymore.

The bottom line is that with the way the Nashville Predators season is going and with how poor their track record has been at developing forwards, they need Tomasino back and in a spot that suits him best.

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That is why I stand by my previous claim that if they are to blow up one area of the team, the center position would be the best and easiest one to do that to. Not only would they save a good bit of money that they could use, but it would free up a spot for Tomasino as a top six winger and let the team showcase the youth movement, which would honestly be helpful for everyone.

If Tomasino is put into the lineup without any other moves being made, then he should take the spot of Cole Smith and be put on the fourth line alongside Glass. Now those two would be far from a bad fit together, but they deserve much better than playing on the fourth line.

Overall, fans should still hold out hope that Tomasino will be back at some point this season, but even if that happens, it seems as if the same thing that happened with Tolvanen could happen with Tomasino with how hesitant they are to play him in the NHL.

Hopefully that debacle is the slap in the face that they need to change their approach to developing youngsters, or else it could just be more of the same with him, Glass, and others.