Welcome to SBNation NHL’s Mock Draft!
My first move as On The Forecheck’s draft manager was to look for a trade to move up, but only for the right player. I was initially hoping to move into the late teens for a skater like Ryan Suzuki or Moritz Seider, but wouldn’t make a move if it required sacrificing too many future picks or prospects.
I reached an agreement with the folks at Defending Big D for the following deal if Ryan Suzuki—someone they were high on—wasn’t available at 18:
Dallas acquires: Miikka Salomaki and the 24th overall pick (2019)
Nashville acquires: Joel L’Esperance and the 18th overall pick (2019)
I thought this deal was a slam dunk regardless of who I could pick at 18, so I was excited to pull the trigger. Suzuki was available at 18, so the agreement was pulled, but the folks in Dallas didn’t even go that route, claiming Moritz Seider instead.
After a few other less successful attempts to move up, I stood pat at 24, so, without further introduction...
With the 24th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, On The Forecheck selects Philip Tomasino from the Niagara IceDogs.
Tomasino has had a comfortable spot in the 20 to 30 range in many rankings this season. Below is where he shakes out in the latest:
NHL Central Scouting: #14 (NA Skaters)
Corey Pronman, The Athletic: #17
ISS Hockey: #18
McKeen’s Hockey: #20
Future Considerations: #22
Craig Button, TSN: #23
Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects: #26
Elite Prospects: #31
Scott Wheeler, The Athletic: #34
By the Numbers
Tomasino finished sixth in scoring on a loaded IceDogs team this season behind Ben Jones (VGK), Akil Thomas (LAK), Kirill Maximov (EDM), Jason Robertson (DAL), and Jack Studnicka (BOS). Among draft-eligible, U19 players in the OHL this season, Tomasino finished tied with Connor McMichael at fourth in league scoring.
It’s easy to imagine how Tomasino’s offensive game was aided by playing in such a loaded forward group, particularly on the man-advantage; he certainly benefited from the Jason Robertson acquisition, scoring 17 goals and 34 points in 31 games with Robertson playing (S/O @OppenheimerEvan).
But looking at Oppenheimer’s measure of “Betweenness” (a measure of how a player is benefited by linemates and how they benefit others)—which you can read more about here—Tomasino had the third highest score among draft-eligible OHL forwards. This means he was more an important conduit in his team’s scoring than a passenger. Additionally, 30 of his 34 goals were scored at even strength.
In games that both played in, Tomasino has 14 goals, 12 prim. assists, 4 sec. assists (30 points) in 30 GP.— Evan Oppenheimer (@OppenheimerEvan) March 6, 2019
In games that Robertson didn't play in, Tomasino has 17 goals 11 prim. assists, 6 sec. assists (34 points) in 31 GP.
Verdict: It's possible, but Tomasino seems legit. pic.twitter.com/jbwWNeBBN3
Per Mitch Brown’s (@MitchLBrown) CHL tracking project, Tomasino was in the 97th percentile league-wide in expected primary points per 60, 80th percentile in shots per 60, and 95th percentile in high-danger shots per 60:
And, finally, Will Scouch (@Scouching) has created an NHLeScore that accounts for age, league, and position to measure production and how that will translate to the NHL. He has Tomasino rated at 22.09, which is comparable to Dylan Cozens, Alex Newhook, and Trevor Zegras. For reference, a score near or above 30.00 would be an elite player of note: Jack Hughes is measured at 31.34 and Kaapo Kakko is at 29.23.
The strengths of Tomasino’s game are obvious: speed and stickhandling. This kid has impressive acceleration, and when he can’t hit that gear in time, he’s still able to protect the puck well while navigating opponents’ defense.
Tomasino is creative with the puck and displayed excellent offensive instinct and spatial awareness often this season.
Combine his excellent finishing skills with adept passing, and Tomasino becomes a player who could slot in well as a 1B/2 center for a long time in the NHL. Notice in the clip above how he pulls back when the defender challenges him but quickly rolls the puck off his blade heel and rolls his wrists in tight to deliver a phenomenal cross-crease pass.
Tomasino is always playing at a blazing speed, and he’s often, inexplicably, able to utilize his elite puck skills while maintaining that pace, like the between-the-legs pass above.
With his speed and prowess, controlled zone entries and exits were a breeze for Tomasino. But, as you see above, he plays with enough sense to anticipate what he wants to do next when chasing a puck and can beat most opponents there cleanly.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com. When you check out the work of those I highlighted above, make sure to give to donate for their work, where applicable, if you can.