Sunday, March 10, 2013

Where Does Toffoli Slot In?

It's official, the Kings have finally called up Tyler Toffoli. Toffoli is leading all rookies in AHL goal-scoring and was 2nd on the Monarchs in points. He might be the best hockey player in the world who was not playing in the NHL.

But assuming Mike Richards is ok to play, where is Toffoli gonna skate?
First Line?
Toffoli is a goal scorer so it would make sense to put him on the top line with a couple of great playmakers in Kopitar and Williams. Justin Williams has been very good at keeping plays alive and setting up offensive fireworks this season even though he himself has not been scoring many goals. I think demoting Dustin Brown to third line duty would make sense. His lack of production so far this season would be enough on its own to move him down, but it has seemed like he is coasting lately and based on his passing up that open net to pass to Jeff Carter for the Kings' first goal last night I'm now wondering if he's starting to question himself.

Last season, threatening to trade Brown got him going, so maybe a demotion would do the trick this season. Being able to slot in a natural goal-scorer like Toffoli in his place on the top line is just an added benefit.

Additionally, Toffoli is the kind of player who would really be able to take advantage of playing with skilled players like Kopi and Williams. The line would lose some size and aggressiveness, but frankly, Brown hasn't been utilizing those attributes this season the way he has in the past and that line has lacked the effectiveness it had last season, so a shake-up might be in order.

Second Line?
How about pairing up Toffoli with Richards and Carter? With a pair of snipers like Carter and Toffoli playing on Richards' wings that line could be nearly unstoppable.

But the second line has been the Kings' best lately with Penner playing great hockey the last couple of weeks, using his size to separate opposition players from the puck, freeing it for his linemates to set up a whole lot of goals.

Removing Penner from the line and adding Toffoli probably wouldn't do much to increase the line's productiveness of late so I don't see this as particularly likely, but it could make for a great power play unit.

Third Line?
Trevor Lewis and Jarret Stoll have been quite good lately and Lewis has been the beneficiary with a couple of goals. Dwight King has only scored one goal this season but that doesn't mean he is doing anything wrong. As Darryl Sutter has said, he's playing well, he just isn't seeing the results yet. Toffoli doesn't bring a skillset that complements Stoll and Lewis in the way that King does (much like Penner, he is great at using his size to free up pucks in the offensive zone). So I don't see Toffoli joining the Kings' third line.

Fourth Line?
I'm not even going to bother addressing this one because there would be no reason to call Toffoli up if it was to get him a few minutes of ice time a game on the fourth line. A sniper like Toffoli has no place grinding it out on the fourth line.

If it was up to me, Toffoli would join Kopi and Williams on the top line and the Kings would line-up as such:

In all honesty, I don't see any other reason to bring him up. It gives both him and the team the best chance to succeed. If Richards is hurt (and I hope this isn't the case), I would do this:

No matter what though, I'm excited to see what Toffoli adds to the Kings line-up tomorrow night!

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