As teams prepare to kick off the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the young Vancouver Canucks team will get their first opportunity to compete in a playoff game. Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes are some of the players on the team that have yet to play a game in the playoffs. This is why Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will play key roles in providing them with their own experiences.
The relationship between the two wingers started before they even reached the NHL. While both of them played in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), they became rivals during the 2011-12 season (from ‘Patrick Johnston: Toffoli, Pearson started out as enemies but quickly became friends’ The Province,’ 02/19/2020). Both led their teams in points that season and finished in second and third in league scoring.
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Toffoli, who played for the Ottawa 67’s, had 52 goals and 100 points in his final OHL season, while Pearson played for the Barrie Colts — he had 37 goals and 91 points in 60 games. The 67’s and Colts were two of the top teams in the league’s Eastern Conference. Their rivalry peaked when Pearson slashed Toffoli in the face after emotions boiled over.
The L.A. Kings drafted Toffoli in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft with the 47th-overall pick and drafted Pearson in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft with the 30th-overall pick as an overager. The two became teammates and good friends in the American Hockey League (AHL), while they played for the Manchester Monarch. Their chemistry eventually led to the Kings calling them up to the NHL.
Start of That 70s Line
Toffoli played 18 games in the AHL before getting called up to play for the Kings in 2013-14. He played 62 games in his first full season with the team, scoring 12 goals and 29 points. Pearson played 41 games in the AHL before getting called up himself, playing 25 games that season.
During 2013-14, Pearson and Toffoli along with Jeff Carter made up the team’s second line, nicknamed That 70s Line, since all three players’ jersey numbers were in the 70s. Toffoli scored 7 goals and 14 points in 26 games and Pearson scored 4 goals and 12 points in 24 games as the Kings went on to win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.
Pearsons Trade to Vancouver
After six seasons with the Kings, Pearson was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Carl Hagelin during the 2018-19 season. In 44 games, he scored 9 goals and had 14 points. The Penguins traded him to the Canucks for Erik Gudbranson, a player many Canucks fans weren’t happy with.
Pearson has proven to be a great fit for the Canucks so far. He finished off the rest of the 2018-19 season strong, scoring 9 goals in the remaining 19 games. He continued to impress in the 2019-20 season while playing with Bo Horvat. After seasons of struggling to find a winger for the team’s captain, Pearson has done a great job of fitting in. He scored 21 goals and set a career-high 45 points in 69 games with the team.
Toffoli Trade to Vancouver
The Canucks added Toffoli to their lineup a week before the 2019-20 NHL trade deadline, days after he scored a hat trick in an outdoor game. The Canucks traded Tim Schaller, prospect Tyler Madden, a second-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick. Toffoli will be a free agent this offseason.
Toffoli spent eight seasons with the Kings, scoring 139 goals and 290 points in 515 games played. He has provided the Canucks with a boost in their top six so far. He’s scored 6 goals and has 10 points in 10 games while playing with J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson during Brock Boeser’s absence.
Canucks Add Forward Depth and Playoff Experience
Before the Canucks traded for the former division rivals and Miller, their top six had quite a few holes. The team struggled to find a winger other than Boeser who would fit in with their top two centers. Earlier in the season, it was noted that Horvat was already on his fifth set of wingers by game 10, but Pearson became a staple on his line as the season went along, with Miller becoming a permanent linemate with Pettersson (from ‘Patrick Johnston: Captain Horvat finds his groove, aims to steer Canucks toward playoffs The Province,’ 01/21/2020).
That left one winger spot open in the top six and Toffoli has proven to be the perfect piece. He also adds depth to the right-wing position. With Boeser being prone to injury, he covers for him and provides the team with scoring.
Both Toffoli and Pearson have playoff experience and they know what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. When the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2014, the two were only 21, which is around the same age as Pettersson, Hughes, and Boeser. The two have played a combined 81 playoff games and along with Jay Beagle are the only players on the roster to win the Stanley Cup.
Pearson and Toffoli’s Experience Accelerates Development
Pearson and Toffoli’s hockey careers have been linked together. The two were rivals in the OHL and then became teammates on a Stanley Cup-winning team. They were an important part of the team’s second line and after being apart for a season, the two are reunited. This time things are a bit different as they are no longer the young guns on a team full of veterans but instead the veterans on a team with young guns. It’s only fitting for the two to play together and help this young Canucks team to make a deep playoff run.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.