Philip Tomasino's 2023-24 campaign got off to a rocky start while learning under a new head coach in Andrew Brunette, but the third-year player is rising to the challenge and turning their season around for the Nashville Predators.
The mark of a great team is one that can get contributions all over the starting lineup. It doesn't have to be just Filip Forsberg and Ryan O'Reilly carrying the offense every night. When they have off nights scoring goals, there are other like Tomasino who can easily fill that void.
We saw this happen on Thursday night as the Predators got back into the win column by taking down the Flyers on the road in a 4-2 final score. Tomasino scored the tying goal and the go-ahead goal to get the Predators to a 19-14-0 overall record and remaining in the Western Conference's top wildcard position with the midway point quickly approaching.
Big Night for Tomasino in Philly, Showing Nashville he's here to Stay
Tomasino has missed eight games this season, but not due to injury but due to healthy scratches by Brunette. A controversial decision at the time, but one that sent a message to the young Tomasino that he needed to make the most out of the minutes he does get.
Brunette has done that with other young forwards as well, including Luke Evangelista and Juuso Parssinen. In the past it's been said that giving these young players a mini reset is important to not falling into a deep rut and shattering their confidence.
While we would all eventually like to see Tomasino as a mainstay in the Predators' top-six, it's just not feasible right now. The Predators are set with their top veteran line of Forsberg, O'Reilly and Gus Nyquist and have no reason to move away from that trio.
The second line is also pretty set with Tommy Novak being a lock for the center position, with Kiefer Sherwood and Luke Evangelista playing on the wings. I don't see that line being broken up, either.
That leaves Tomasino in the bottom six and playing with less offensive skill, but what you love to see is he's taking it in stride and boosing the depth scoring for the Predators. A vital factor to a team that wins on a consistent basis.
Tomasino is currently skating with a lot of confidence and drive. His last two games he has gotten more than 15 minutes of ice time while the eight games prior to that he finished with under 15 minutes.
Tomasino is Relishing in the Bottom Six Role he has
In late October and into November Tomasino was getting benched and questions were beginning to swirl around on his future with Nashville. He's a restricted free agent in 2024 and his entrly level contract is expiring. When the Predators made waiver claims for Samuel Fagemo and Liam Foudy, it was brought into serious question if Tomasino was going to remain with the Predators.
Since then, both Fagemo and Foudy have been waived and Tomasino has once again become a regular starter. The way he is currently playing, you don't expect him to get benched again for the remainder. In fact, General Manager Barry Trotz should already be thinking behind closed doors on Tomasino first NHL standard contract.
No doubt Tomasino has bigger aspirations and has the talent level to be playing more minutes and having more offensively skilled linemates. But the more important thing right now is to control things he can control, and right now his role is important for this Predators team bieng a weapon for the bottom six. Many teams don't have that kind of talent in the bottom part of their starting lineup.
With Tomasino's two-goal night against Philly, he hits the career milestone of 20 NHL goals. Many more to come for the dynamic offensive producer who has impressively stepped up to Brunette's early season challenge and delivered.