It was about time that Philip Tomasino got his full shot at the NHL level, and he sure didn’t disappoint. He was not Trevor Zegras or Moritz Seider, but plenty of factors contributed to the season he had in 2021-22, including ones outside his control. Nonetheless, plenty is still to come from the Mississauga, Ontario forward.
Playing in the bottom six as a younger kid has pros and cons. The biggest pro is easily the competition. There’s no need to task most younger players with matchups against Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, or even other very strong players that play on the second line for depth reasons.
However, the biggest con is that the players who a rising star like Tomasino is playing with are not going to match his talent level. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way she goes. The pro and con I listed were both evident for the Nashville Predators' 2019 first-round draft pick. Playing forwards like Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and even The Herd Line of Colton Sissons, Yakov Trenin, and Tanner Jeannot against plenty of solid competition over the season was the primary plan of action for head coach John Hynes. And when it comes to linemates, I think it’s safe to say that Tomasino didn’t get the benefit of the doubt there either. He played most of his time with Nick Cousins and Michael McCarron, according to Evolving-Hockey.
The most unfortunate part about the latter is that a line of Tolvanen-Glass-Tomasino worked when they were thrown together. However, the Predators thought it would be better to give Glass another year of seasoning in the AHL instead of bringing him to the show full-time. The hope is that he will be on the opening night roster this year thanks to his development.
In 2021-22, the 21-year-old Tomasino played in 76 games and scored 32 points, which was tied for 13th in the NHL among rookies. He was 15th in points per game. He was also sixth on the Predators in goals above replacement (GAR) and eighth in expected goals above replacement (xGAR). Below is his regularized adjusted plus-minus (RAPM) chart, showing that he was an almost elite defender with about average offensive outputs.
Tomasino’s defending being this strong is an excellent sign. It’s not very often that young players are this mature on the defensive end, and considering the kind of offensive skills he showcased throughout the season—great skating in transition, a good shot, solid vision, and more—there shouldn’t be any doubt that he’s a player to watch for in the upcoming campaign. It also helps that his linemates should be much better than they were for most of his time playing last season too. No offense to McCarron or Cousins, but any of Forsberg, Johansen, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, and Matt Duchene are going to be better for a young and highly skilled forward.
Not only am I looking for Tomasino to remain one of the Predators’ top contributors, but he should be doing it in a much higher role than he was before. So don’t be surprised if his name continues to pop up on the scoresheet. The expectations for him are high, but confidence should also be high that he can help the team win.