Nashville Predators are Down to Two Realistic Options for Philip Tomasino

Philip Tomasino #26 of the Nashville Predators reaches for the puck during the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bridgestone Arena on March 26, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. Toronto defeats Nashville 3-2. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Philip Tomasino #26 of the Nashville Predators reaches for the puck during the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bridgestone Arena on March 26, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. Toronto defeats Nashville 3-2. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

If there is one thing we can say has been a touchy subject for the Nashville Predators since the start of last year, it is the journey of Philip Tomasino‘s young career. It started when he was sent to Milwaukee to begin last season, and everyone at the time thought it was a bit of a fluke.

It is understandable why, as he put up 32 points in 76 games in his rookie 2021-22 season, and most attributed the demotion to him not fitting John Hynes’ system. When he came back in February and played well, putting up 18 points in 31 games, it indeed looked to most like another laughable Hynes decision, but there is a good chance that he had seen something we had not.

Tomasino is yet again riding the pine, as he has only played six of the Predators’ 12 games, and only has a meager one assist on the season.

At this point, the issues appear to be way deeper than a coach with a questionable system not liking his flashy style of play, and the organization has to seriously ask themselves what they are going to do with him.

There is a problem with Philip Tomasino and we cannot ignore it anymore

Multiple examples have proven that Tomasino being sent down to the AHL to begin 2022-23 was not the fluke all of us thought it was. For all the snark and derision there was around John Hynes’ rather dull coaching style, yet another NHL head coach in Andrew Brunette, whose style actually favors flashy offensive guys like Tomasino, is refusing to play him on a nightly basis.

That alone should seriously raise some eyebrows, but the other roster decisions made by Brunette make the whole situation even more alarming. If the Tomasino benching were due to stubbornness to play youth or deviate from a particular system, why are guys like Luke Evangelista, Juuso Parssinen, and Cody Glass (when healthy) not missing a game?

Even Cole Smith and Kiefer Sherwood, the essential whipping boys for last year’s Tomasino debacle, are still playing night in and night out for Brunette. It is crazy to think about since both are significantly less talented and made for the modern game, but again, multiple NHL head coaches have preferred the grinders over the former first round pick.

Heck, even Liam Foudy, who was claimed by the Predators less than three weeks ago, has not missed a game since entering the lineup. We simply cannot deny it anymore, there is a reason all of this is happening, and a quote from Barry Trotz gives us a good idea of what is going on. (Per Nick Kieser of Nashville Hockey Now and 102.5 The Game).

Those are some brutally honest words, and yet another indication that the issues with Tomasino are individual, and not him being robbed of an opportunity. The debacle is at or near a breaking point, and the Predators simply cannot let it persist any longer.

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Nashville Predators have two options with Tomasino – Play him or Trade him

The only options the team has are to let Tomasino play in Nashville, or just give him a fresh start elsewhere. Simply scratching him every night will obviously do him no good, and sending him down to Milwaukee again would amplify the disconnect between player and organization and make things worse.

Between the two available options, I am afraid that both sides might just be better off if a trade happened. If Brunette opts to play Tomasino again, he is not going to trust him to play top minutes, and the excerpt from Trotz tells us that playing him sparingly would not go well and may just delay the inevitable ending.

Not only that, but a trade might make sense based on how the Predators’ roster is constructed.

When fully healthy, there are maybe two forwards you could justify playing Tomasino over right now, and that is with Samuel Fagemo still being a scratch, and Joakim Kemell‘s first NHL opportunity looming in the near future.

The Predators just do not have enough room for everyone, so they could see and use an opportunity to make some room and ship off a disgruntled player. That being said, do not expect them to get much in return for him.

If Trotz is lucky, he could get a late third round pick for Tomasino, but more than likely it would be for about a fifth or sixth rounder, or a not so hyped up prospect. And as bad as it would look, there is a non-zero chance that he ends up getting traded for future considerations, especially because he is waivers exempt.

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The most ideal situation would be to include him in a package to trade for a proven player, but it is hard to imagine the Predators making such a trade right now with the state of their team. More than likely, they will just have to trade Tomasino by himself for whatever they can get, because the continued scratching and Trotz’s statement show that the team does not value him very highly.

There is no good situation here for the front office, but the Tomasino experiment has not gone well and they should admit it sooner rather than later. They will not have much leverage in a trade, but the sooner they bite the bullet, the better it will be for all parties involved.