A couple of months ago, Philip Tomasino’s availability to the Lightning at 27th overall seemed more than reasonable. But through the draft process, his stock is rising and it now feels a little optimistic to include him in our profiles. That said, he’s still projected in the early or even mid-twenties in some places so it’s not impossible he slides all the way to the end of the first round where the Lightning will be selecting.
Tomasino is a 6’0” 181 lb center who played with the Niagara IceDogs in the Ontario Hockey League last season. While picking the best player available is the best option in the draft, centers are still the most valuable position and if a team has a choice between a group of several players that all project similarly, they’ll most likely select the center. That’s part of the reason Tomasino is unlikely to be around at 27. At some point before that, he’ll probably win a tie breaker on someone’s draft board by virtue of being a center.
While his position is part of the reason he’s rising, it isn’t the only reason. From reading and listening to a slew of different scouting sources, the most compelling thing about Tomasino’s game isn’t one part in particular but rather the completeness of it. He seems to have few weaknesses and while he might not have any elite skills, his well-roundedness could get him selected as high as the middle of the first round. In a draft rife with players with tantalizing skill sets but also glaring holes in their games, Tomasino’s total package will be appealing.
For the Lightning, he checks all the boxes. We already know size isn’t an issue for the team at center so while that might be a concern for some organizations, it won’t be in Tampa. We also know the Bolts front office likes players who contribute in all areas and Tomasino has that. His primary impacts are offensive but he’s also solid if not spectacular defensively. He’s shown an ability to get to the net and win puck battles, which is also important to the Lightning.
We know that two of the primary indicators the Lightning look for are hockey sense and skating. Scouts laud Tomasino’s intelligence that allows him to be both creative with the puck and appropriately aggressive on the forecheck. Similarly, they give high marks to his skating, particularly his edges, which allow him to be effective in tight spaces including in front of the net.
The Lightning pipeline, once filled with promising center prospects, has grown thin in that area. The NHL team still has plenty of options but no one outside the system projects as a top nine center. All of the forwards who look to make significant NHL impact will play on the wing. In Syracuse last year, most of the centers were veteran players. Part of this is due to how hard it can be to find centers later in the first round or the second round where the Lightning have been picking during this run of success. A player like Tomasino sliding to 27 would be an extra boon for the Lightning because of the positional value.
In terms of production, Tomasino did more than enough to be considered a top twenty pick. He was fifth in the OHL in all situation points-per-game among players under age 18. At 5v5, he was fourth in that age group in primary scoring and the best goal scorer. He had more goals than assists, which is normal for a player of his caliber in junior hockey but scouts see plenty of playmaking ability that will likely show itself as he moves up in his development and plays with better players.
Philip Tomasino Stats
|2015-2016||Mississauga Rebels Bantam AAA||GTBHL||-||-||-||-||-|
|Mississauga Rebels Bantam AAA||OHF Bantam AAA||8||4||3||7||10|
|Oshawa Generals Selects U15||WSI U15||9||2||7||9||2|
|2016-2017||Mississauga Rebels Mn Mdgt AAA||GTMMHL||54||37||31||68||-|
|Mississauga Rebels Mn Mdgt AAA||OHL Cup||5||2||3||5||2|
|Team GTHL Blue||OGC-16||5||6||4||10||0|
|Canada Black U17||WHC-17||5||0||1||1||0|
When putting together these profiles, we have to include some players that are likely to go too early for the Lightning to select and some who would be a little bit of a reach. Tomasino definitely falls into the former category. But if he does fall, the Lightning would do well to pounce. He would give them a possible top six center prospect, which is something they don’t have in the system currently.
Extremely intelligent, great puckhandler, and a heavy release that he uses to score big goals, Tomasino is a smooth skater whose exceptional playmaking skills often go unnoticed. He has excellent hockey sense, breakaway speed and edgework, but also an underrated defensive awareness. He’ll need to add muscle in order to make the jump, but he has the foundation to become a successful NHL player.
He’s got all the tools to succeed in the modern day NHL. He’s a very fast skater with high-end puck skills and the vision to make difficult plays. His pace is good but I wish he used his high-end speed a bit more. Tomasino is a threat off the rush due to how quickly his feet and hands move, and when you think of “playing fast,” he’s a guy who is built to do that. He looks to make plays, often finding tight lanes, and he has the creativity to make unique passes. Tomasino has a slight build and isn’t the best at winning 1-on-1 battles in the tough areas.
Tomasino’s game is built for today’s NHL in that he plays with pace, he’s a threat in transition, he handles the puck lightly but not too long, he drives the slot, he finds pockets off the puck and he makes tough plays look easy. A little more upper body strength will go a long way to making him a more complete player as well.