Under pressure: Tyler Toffoli

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This post is part of Kings Day on PHT…

Tyler Toffoli‘s place in his NHL career right now can be illustrated by his recently signed three-year, $13.8 million contract: He’s already established, but still has something to prove before he can land a big long-term deal.

Toffoli set career-highs in 2015-16 with 31 goals and 58 points in 82 contests, but he took a step back offensively last season and missed some time due to a lower-body injury. Of course he was far from the only Kings player to have a disappointing 2016-17 campaign as the team at large can’t be happy with how last season went, but Toffoli is also part of their future.

The Kings are hoping that Marian Gaborik, for example, can stay healthy and become the player he once was, but at the age of 35, their hopes for Gaborik are largely in the short-term and what’s at stake there is avoiding a potential contract buyout down the road. By contrast Toffoli is just 25-years-old and consequently could be one of the pillars this team is rebuilt on.

It does help that his strong 2015-16 campaign isn’t the only bright point on his resume. While that was Toffoli at his best thus far, he also did well in the 2014 playoffs when the Kings most recently captured the Stanley Cup and he followed that up with a 49-point 2014-15 season.

It’s also worth noting that even though his production took a dip last season, Toffoli did look more encouraging when considering his puck possession numbers. He had a 56.9% Corsi and 56.5% Fenwick at even strength, which were favorable when compared to the Kings at large. Agent Pat Brisson also suggested that Toffoli played a large chunk of the season hurt.

“He missed 21 games, and I would say, honestly, I think he played probably another 20 on one leg,” Brisson said, per LA Kings Insider.

Toffoli underwent knee surgery after the season, but should be ready for training camp.

So there are reasons to believe that it was 2016-17 that was the anomaly and that Toffoli should bounce back this season, but the burden is still on him to prove that by delivering in 2017-18.