NHL Entry Draft Rewind: Tyler Toffoli

It’s been quite a memorable season thus far for Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli.

In Monday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks the 23 year-old winger hit a career milestone, scoring his 30th goal of the season, the first time that he’s hit that marker (but likely not the last). It was also something of a team milestone, as Toffoli becomes the first King player to notch 30 tallies in a year since Anze Kopitar did it back in 2009-10.

Toffoli is certainly no stranger to scoring goals. He had 23 last year for Los Angeles and was also a prolific sniper during his time in the Ontario Hockey League, picking up 163 goals in his four junior seasons, or an average of 41 goals per season. He topped the 50-goal plateau in both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons for his amateur club, the Ottawa 67’s.

All of this, in retrospect, just makes it all the more strange that Toffoli was never selected until the 2nd round, 47th overall, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Toffoli produced big numbers for Ottawa in his first draft-eligible season, picking up 79 points in 65 games, along with 13 more points in 12 playoff games. While plus-minus is a limited stat it’s often all one has to go on when it comes to junior players, and Toffoli’s +25 rating from that season, second best on his team, suggests that he wasn’t a particular liability on the defensive side of things.

Scouting reports from the time were similarly glowing.

“Is not very big in stature for his Ottawa team, but he makes up for that in skill and effort, ” said director of NHL Central Scouting E.J. McGuire, as reported by The Hockey Writers’ Chris Ralph. “He’s got 79 points in his 65 games played. He’s got an NHL release and incredible accuracy with his shot. An equal threat whether he’s dishing the puck or shooting the puck himself.”

“I think the issue that’s kind of interesting about Toffoli is he’s ranked down there in the second round but he is a big-game scorer and has that coveted ability to score big-game and clutch goals,” added Matt Ebbs, former director of the International Scouting Service, as reported at the time by NESN. “A lot of scouts … have compared him to a Brad Boyes.”

And yet, when draft weekend rolled around Toffoli inexplicably kept sliding down the draft board.

Of particular note, Toffoli was passed over by teams for a number of other forwards from the OHL, including Jared Knight (32nd), John McFarland (33rd), Dalton Smith (34th), Christian Thomas (40th), Devante Smith-Pelley (42nd) and Ryan Spooner (45th).

Toffoli is already at 67 career goals in the NHL. The rest of those players combined? Just 50.

Those 67 goals are also good for 8th out of the entire 2010 draft class, behind names like Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The Kings, of course, certainly don’t mind, knowing that they uncovered a steal with their 2nd round pick that season. Toffoli played a big part in the team’s 2014 Stanley Cup championship, with 14 points in 26 games, and at such a young age is sure to be an important player for the organization for years to come.