We’ve reached the top-10 of my draft board and starting off is one of the draft’s most electrifying players: Niagara Ice Dogs forward Philip Tomasino. The OHL product plays a style of game very comparable to Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders. Speed, speed, and more speed. That’s the calling card of his game but he can also make highly skilled plays that make him incredibly fun to watch. There’s a wow factor that only few from this draft have.
Tomasino showcased his talents on a nightly basis on a stacked Ice Dogs team. I feel he is one of those instances where playing on a very good team hurts him, not getting the prime minutes that he would have otherwise thrived in. He’s never been fully appreciated, nearly being dealt to the Kingston Frontenacs midseason. But trust me, Tomasino has potential to be a star pivot in the NHL one day.
|Birthday||July 28, 2001|
Skating: 65 – Puck Skills: 60 – Hockey IQ/Sense: 55 – Physicality: 50
Tomasino is as fun as it gets. Not many players can make the plays he does at top speed. Only few can even manage to match his top-gear. He can push the pace of play like no other and prefers to play at high speeds. When things get tight he isn’t looking to play it safe and slow things down. He just wants to go, go, go all the time. In turn he is a zone-entry machine. He forces defenders to back up so much because of how threatening his speed is. His first step is so explosive and he can turn the corner on anyone.
But what makes Tomasino different is the plays he pulls off at top speed in transition. He can execute thrilling acts of high-end skill, be it a flashy toe-drag or cut to the middle. His dynamic abilities make him a pain to contain. He’s one of those players you can only hope to slow down, not stop, but at some point he is going to breakthrough because he is too electrifying. He has the breakaway speed to beat you on the outside and the pucks skills to get to the inside.
With these speed-demon types their puck control can be a little careless, but in Tomasino’s case he is quite responsible when he carries the mail. Turnovers aren’t as big of an issue as you would expect.
His creativity, playmaking, and goal scoring all get top-marks as well. He is a threat to shoot and pass, making him even more unpredictable. Some of the passes he has made are brilliant displays of vision.
As a shooter, Tomasino has a satisfying pull back wrister that can surprise goalies. He doesn’t sacrifice much leverage to do so, being capable of scoring from range. It’s just another weapon in his arsenal and I certainly wouldn’t be shocked to see him eclipse the 30 goal mark in the NHL one day, even though he isn’t a noted pure goal scorer. He creates too many chances to not be a scoring threat. Because of that, it is reasonable to see him flirt with a point per game when he puts it all together. His strong playmaking and ability to score goals will give him the chance.
Tomasino has already shown signs of being able to produce. In 67 games this season he posted 34 goals and 72 points. Quite impressive, considering he wasn’t even on the top powerplay unit. He was sixth in the OHL in points per game among under-18 players, but with more ice-time he would have easily moved up the ranks.
What you’re getting in Tomasino is a speedy, dynamic forward who will push the pace and make eye-popping plays. He played right wing for Niagara this season but is a natural center. Long-term I envision him down the middle. With that, I see him being a controlling presence because of the pace he plays at. He owns a tireless work ethic to keep moving with the play. Add in the scoring potential he has and there is so much to like. If he makes it to the twenties of the draft that general manager better run to the podium.
Tomasino strikes me as a player who will last long in his first NHL training camp. Ultimately, though, I see him returning to the OHL to continue growing as a player. With most of Niagara’s core moving on he should see a substantial increase in ice-time, including reps at center. In terms of what he can improve on, his defensive game could serve to get better. He won’t be winning any Selkes but some improvement will be needed if he wants to make the NHL by the 2020-21 season.