It’s never an easy decision for an organization to send down a young, rising player on your team down to the AHL, but that’s exactly what the Nashville Predators have done with Philip Tomasino as the roster had to be trimmed down to 23 players after the NHL Global Series.
Tomasino, who played in 76 games in his rookie season in 2021-22, will be starting the season with the AHL Milwaukee Admirals when many expected him to be a lock to be as high as the 2nd line with veterans Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter. A big ask of such a young player, and one that apparently the organization doesn’t think he’s quite ready for.
A rather dramatic turn of events for both Tomasino and the Predators. The front office and coaches clearly have the long game in mind when it comes to the 20-year-old’s development.
What is most shocking about a decision like this isn’t on the surface necessarily. Teams send down players that are Tomasino’s age all the time when they see cracks in their game and realize they’re just not ready for elevated NHL minutes. It’s a normal occurrence.
However, the rare thing about this particular case is how many games Tomasino played in his rookie campaign, and the fact that he was seventh on the team in points with 32 while only averaging 11:32 of ice time. Extremely efficient for such a young player.
Furthermore, among regular skaters that had over 30 games, Tomasino was fourth on the team in Corsi-for at even strength, only trailing the likes of Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, and Roman Josi. Pretty elite company if you ask me.
Per Robby Stanley of 102.5 The Game, The Nashville Predators flagship station, Head Coach John Hynes believes that Tomasino is a top-six talent but that they’re choosing to go with better options in that 2nd line role that was previously thought to be Tomasino’s to lose going into training camp:
Looking at it from a positive perspective, the Predators haven’t had this deep of a roster to work with in quite some time, which enables them to send down a young talent like Tomasino and still be fine.
If the Predators were deep in a rebuild or just not a very good team right now, then you would probably let Tomasino go through the growing pains and even get top-six minutes. However, this year’s Predators team is expected to not only compete for another postseason appearance, but also do damage once they get there.
This puts the pressure on Eeli Tolvanen to show the coaching staff he’s ready for a consistent top-six role. He’s a big player in all of this, and he has apparently impressed coaches early on both from training camp, preseason and their first two regular season games.
Tolvanen tallied this gorgeous sniper of a goal at the Global Series against the San Jose Sharks:
In the end, I think Tomasino will be fine. He will now get a ton of ice time on the AHL level, which he really hasn’t gotten yet. Just 29 games with the Chicago Wolves, a season when the Admirals weren’t able to participate due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bigger question that arises is when will we see Tomasino resurface on the NHL level? Will they be quick to call him back up if he plays at a high level for a month? I have my reservations with that approach because then you’re just constantly switching him up too much.
If the Predators call him back up at some point this season, he needs to be up here to stay for good. With that said, I won’t be against him getting a full season with the Milwaukee Admirals, much like what Cody Glass got to do last season and look how that turned out.
The Predators have several reliable fourth liners they can throw out there while Tomasino is developing on the AHL level. Glass, Michael McCarron, Zach Sanford, Cole Smith, and Kiefer Sherwood are your main players they’ll be rotating on the fourth line.