The Los Angeles Kings officially recalled top prospect Tyler Toffoli from the Manchester Monarchs on Sunday afternoon. Toffoli, 20, ranks second in the American Hockey League with 28 goals scored and second on the Monarchs with 48 points (28-20=48; +20). The 28 goals lead all rookie skaters.
Los Angeles’ second round draft pick in 2010, Toffoli broke out with a 107-point campaign as an 18-year old with the Ottawa 67’s in 2010-11, tying for the Ontario Hockey League scoring lead while leading the league in goals scored with 57. He followed that up with a 100-point season (52-48=100) in 2011-12, leading the league in goals for the second straight year with 52.
There is speculation that the Toffoli call-up could be related to the heavy hit weathered by Mike Richards in the second period of Saturday’s 6-2 win over the Calgary Flames. There is certainly merit towards that rationale, though keep in mind Toffoli had a strong – though abbreviated – training camp according to those in hockey operations, the team had an extra roster spot, and he’s a highly regarded prospect who has shown no hiccups in his first professional season. Such a transition does not come easily for 20-year-olds who make the leap from junior hockey to the American Hockey League.
Independent of any ill effects felt by Richards that could question his status this week – the center returned in the third period last night – this call-up was just as much precipitated by Toffoli’s own natural progression and development.
On Dean Lombardi’s conference call last month, the Kings’ general manager spoke of the varying levels of readiness when considering when to recall players from the AHL. “There are different stages of ‘ready’. Ready for a shot, ready to make an impact, ready to fit in,” Lombardi explained.
Toffoli is expected to arrive in Los Angeles tonight. We should learn more about his usage at tomorrow’s morning skate.
Toffoli had been playing on the Monarchs’ top line as a right wing opposite Tanner Pearson (currently out with an upper-body injury) on a line centered by Linden Vey. Despite several injuries to Manchester’s roster that had necessitated ECHL call-ups, the team was 6-0-1-0 in its past seven games entering Sunday’s affair with Scranton Wilkes-Barre, lifting the club into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot.