NHL prospect profile: Tyler Toffoli

Neate Sager, Yahoo! Sports
Yahoo! Sports

Tyler Toffoli is well-aware his booming shot is just the cherry on the sundae.

Eighty, 90 per cent of being a goal scorer usually revolves around getting open, which means speed and constant effort are the determining factors between a sniper at the junior level and one in the NHL. Toffoli, who had a 37-goal, 79-point season for a youngish Ottawa 67's team, has one of the hardest shots in the Ontario Hockey League. That indicated the Scarborough, Ont., native, who is NHL Central Scouting's 16th-ranked North American skater, will have somethign to offer if his skating improves across his two remaining junior seasons.

Toffoli is listed as a centre, but is best known for his luck in linemates. He skated on a line with possible first overall pick, the Plymouth Whalers' Tyler Seguin, and his old AAA midget running mate, John McFarland, when they helped Canada capture the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka under-18 tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in August 2009. Two years earlier, Toffoli and John McFarland, who plays for the Sudbury Wolves, were linemates on the Toronto Jr. Canadiens midget club.

The 6-foot, 178-pounder, who is an admitted Twilight fan, has helped anchor a respectable Ottawa team. His season reflected the 67's. Toffoli had a slow start as the 67's adjusted to a coaching change, with Chris Byrne replacing legend Brian Kilrea behind the bench in Canada's capital city. (Oddly enough, Kilrea's coaching retirement finally prompted the team benches at the Urbandale Centre to be placed on the same side of the rink, two decades after it became a standard practice.) He got hot through November and December and sustained it through the rest of the season, helping an 82-point Ottawa teram earn the No. 2 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

Toffoli had seven goals and 13 points in 12 playoff games before Ottawa bowed out to the Mississauga-St. Michael's Majors, losing Game 7 on home ice. There's a chance he could stay in the first round, but early second might be a safer bet.

1. How would you say your past season progressed, from start to finish?

"I think I was able to accept a bigger role. Last year I was the rookie I was the younger kid and I wasn't really expected to score goals. This year, I was really expected to go out and help my team.

"I had a slow start -- two points in 13 games or so -- and after that I really picked it up. In November, I had almost a point and a half a game for a while. It averaged out, but I finished strong."

"[Rookie head coach Chris Byrne] was a real good leader for our team. He's a great guy and a great coach, great personality. When we're on the road, he always has the guys laughing. He was a great coach and it was a pretty successful year."

2. In your mind, what would scouts say is the biggest thing you have tom What is the biggest asset you bring to a team?

"Just my fitness level. I felt I did average [at the NHL Scouting Combine]. Moving on, I have really bear down when it comes to my fitness ... my skating, too, getting quicker feet."

3. What do you consider your proudest hockey achievement?

"Probably winning the [Memorial of Ivan Hlinka] under-18 gold for Canada. It was the first time I represented Canada like that. It was a great experience to meet guys you play against in the league, as well as from out west and and even in the Q. It was a lot of fun."

4. Outside of family, whom in the NHL do you look at and say, 'That's someone I need to be playing like?'

"Just growing up with so many great players really helped me a lot. Just playing with John [McFarland] really helped me. He was a great player in minor hockey and we pushed each other and we're here now."

5. Favourite TV show or movie?

"I love all kind of movies. I'd say Anchorman is definitely something I can laugh at all day."

For more NHL draft coverage, visit ca.sports.yahoo.com/juniorhockey

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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