By Paul Armbruster • KingsNewsDaily.com •
When it comes to Kings prospects, Dean Lombardi is known as a general manager who makes a kid earn his spot on the big club. He prefers to leave guys in the minors where they gain experience and learn the Kings system over and over again until one day, they get the call. That routine, if you will, might occur more than once, just as it did with Dwight King who had a short stint in LA before going back down — or just a single time, as was the case with Jordan Nolan last year. The current Kings lineup is littered with such players including Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov.
That’s why I’ve been scratching my head when it comes to Tyler Toffoli’s call up a couple of weeks ago and his apparent permanent stay here in Los Angeles. It does not follow Lombardi’s M.O. by any measure. Sure, some players are too good to keep in the AHL, like Drew Doughty who never played a single game for the Manchester Monarchs or Kyle Clifford who only played a handful of playoff games back in 2010.
But Tyler isn’t one of them. At least on the surface. I recall hearing multiple reasons why Toffoli could use some seasoning down in Manch both from Lombardi and Assistant GM Ron Hextall. Reasons such as he has work to do on defense as well as needing to improve his strength if I recall correctly. Toffoli has played just of 61 games in the AHL before the call. He now has 7 games under his belt in the NHL along with 5 points. Not bad at all.
But what was it that seemingly changed Lombardi’s usual pattern in the development of players? I asked my self this question again and again. After all, it’s not like the Kings needed Toffoli. They were playing very well ahead of his arrival. Plus, the Monarchs are fighting for a playoff spot and have spiraled downward in Tyler’s absence and can certainly use him as he was their leading scorer. I thought maybe Lombardi just wanted to give Tyler some experience before sending him back down but 7 games is quite a stretch. Of course, that sill may happen. But I doubt it.
“Gave us some energy. If he wouldn’t have, he would have been on trouble. He should’ve had a full tank. Hey, you know what? Brad works his ass off every day, right? You know what? He can play anywhere in your lineup, but it has to fit with who he’s playing with, too. Hey, that’s what I said when we brought Tyler up. You know what? The schedule forced us to carry a full roster. I asked Dean if we could. I wanted another kid who can score in the lineup in case we needed him. Some nights you need size. Some nights you need a scorer. Some nights you need the energy. Some nights you need the right winger. Some nights you need a left winger.
And with that little off-the-cuff remark, the mystery (at least in my mind) was solved. It wasn’t (necessarily) Dean Lombardi’s desire to bring up Toffoli at all. Rather, it was a request by the coach to have more firepower added to his arsenal and the GM granted it. Of course, Lombardi relies on a team of hockey experts to help him make decisions, including Special Assistant to Dean, Jack Ferreira, who was instrumental in lobbying for the Nolan and King call up ahead of the playoffs last year.
So what do you think? Do you like how the move is working out? More to the point, do you believe Dean thinks it’s a good idea overall? Or do you think maybe he’s doing his coach a favor that goes against his better judgement?
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