I’ve profiled a handful of players already this draft season that played on some pretty terrible teams (see Maxim Cajkovic or Peyton Krebs), creating an extra layer of difficulty when it comes to player assessment.
Today’s player comes with the exact opposite problem. Philip Tomasino played on a loaded Niagara Ice Dogs squad and piled up points accordingly. Now it’s our job to parse how much credit to give to Tomasino, and how much to credit the quality of players around him.
Either way, this is a first round prospect, but where in the first round is up for debate. Let’s get into it.
- Age/Birthdate: 17 / July 28, 2001
- Birthplace: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
- Frame: 6-foot-0 / 181 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Right
- Draft Year Team: Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
- GTBHL Champion
- OHF Bantam AAA Champion
- GTMMHL Champion
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
It is a testament to the skill level of Philip Tomasino that he was able to stand out in Niagara this year, on a squad that boasted NHL draft picks such as Jason Robertson, Akil Thomas, Kirill Maximov, Jack Studnicka, Ivan Lodnia and Ben Jones.
If we needed to nail down a standout attribute for Tomasino, it would be his speed. Tomasino is explosive, generating an immense amount of power in his initial strides. His quick conversion from standstill to top speed, coupled with long, elegant strides as opposed to quick steps, gives the appearance that he isn’t skating as hard as he is – until you see him blowing by defencemen with regularity. Check the clip below to see what I mean.
A study of Tomasino’s scoring this season reveals a pattern of goals tallied in a handful of different ways. Owing to his speed, breakaways are a frequent occurrence; to finish, he alternates between a series of dekes and a shot from about 10 feet out, about two feet off the ice between the arm and the pad. The majority of his non-breakaway goals are also scored in tight to the night, either because he’s cruised in looking for a loose puck to pot, or because he’s driven the puck there himself.
No one should call Tomasino a perimeter player – he makes sure that his shots are taken from dangerous areas, and he’s been rewarded with a 17% shooting percentage. It does, however, provide little opportunity to assess his ability as a distance shooter. What examples there are suggests that his shot velocity is merely average, while his accuracy is somewhat above-average and his release is his greatest asset in this regard. It’s something to continue working on, but you’ll have no shortage of hockey minds willing to tell you that the areas that Tomasino scores from now are the areas where NHL goals are frequently scored, which bodes well for the retention of his offence at the pro level.
Tomasino is a diligent player, but he doesn’t always play with a great deal of urgency. The powerful acceleration he shows in advance of straight-line drives doesn’t always manifest itself in effective puck-hounding in the defensive or neutral zones. Tomasino shows some willingness to be physical, but at his size is largely ineffective in that role.
Rather than hunting and chasing opponents for possession, he prefers to pick his spots and pounce on loose pucks, allowing him to lead the transition the other direction. He uses his speed to generate space for himself near-instantaneously, and can then either fly up the ice with possession himself or make a crisp, long range pass to a teammate in full flight.
When transitioning up ice, Tomasino also does a good job of staying in the play, adjusting his lanes and maintaining an aura of open space so that he can continue to be an option as the play develops. He does a good job of that here, starting the play in his own zone before becoming a pass option on the rush and finally setting up a teammate for a pretty goal.
One area where Tomasino is noticeably more assertive is on the forecheck. He bears done on opposing defencemen with speed and cunning, using good body positioning and well-timed stick lifts to relieve his targets of possession. Because he maintains awareness of his surroundings, he is able to make quick use of his newfound possession and set up a teammate for a scoring chance. The clip below is a particularly impressive example, but it is certainly not the only one – both the successful forecheck and the quick set up are routinely part of Tomasino’s game.
While his setups are frequently performed with a degree of subtlety and deception (he likes to pass against the grain, before crossing the back of the net, or in other situation where defenders might not be on high alert and subsequently caught unawares), he certainly has the capacity to add some flash and creativity to his plays.
Tomasino is a highly skilled player with a decent set of hands to go along with his fast feet. One thing I like to look for in prospects is their ability to handle poor passes. Tomasino takes this pass off his skate without missing a beat (you’d be surprised how many junior players, and even pros, struggle with this), even going so far as to direct it slightly on his left in front of him, despite being right handed, allowing him to keep the puck at distance from a pressuring defender before taking the puck around the perimeter.
Tomasino’s speed and skill should make him a highly sought after prospect in this year’s draft. He is one the class’s most improved player in 2018-19, with noticeable positive differences between early viewings and late viewings, including his assertiveness. If he could harness the energy that he uses in forechecking and creating offence to track the puck in all three zones, he has the potential to become a ruthlessly efficient two-way player. Even in the absence of that, it seems likely that we’re looking at a potentially dangerous top six winger.
To break down Tomasino from a statistical perspective, let’s start where we often do: with the pGPS cohort model. Using a variety of statistical measures for comparison, Tomasino has a 40% likelihood of becoming a regular NHL player, and a 19% likelihood of becoming a top six forward.
First liners like Matt Duchene, Nathan Horton, Corey Perry and Mark Scheifele appear in Tomasino’s cohort, though the most similar player in the sample was Alexander Khoklachev, who had 34 goals and 76 points in 67 games to Tomasino’s 34 and 72 in 67; Khoklachev dominated at the AHL level but couldn’t crack the Boston Bruins roster and has since returned to the Russia, making him a tricky comparable to Tomasino, who has no such potential for defection.
From an adjusted scoring perspective, Tomasino ticks a number of important boxes. He’s one of the youngest high-end players available, thanks to his late July birthday, and thus gains an age adjustment benefit. He also had a killer point rate at 5-on-5 (he is tied for third most in the draft class with 52 5-on-5 points, trailing only Alex Newhook and Dylan Cozens), and strong power play production to top it off.
The net value of the adjustments places his scoring rate directly in between that of Kirby Dach and Raphael Lavoie, shortly behind Dylan Cozens and comfortably ahead of Cole Caufield, Peyton Krebs, and Alex Newhook.
One thing that SEAL does not account for is quality of teammates – something known to be a heavy factor in offensive production. This is vitally important in the discussion of Tomasino’s accomplishments this season, given the strength of the Niagara IceDogs.
Tomasino’s scoring was spread extensively across a variety of teammates, and while high-end prospects like Thomas and Robertson feature prominently, his main beneficiary was an undrafted 19-year old, and he converted multiple setups from more than a dozen different teammates.
As far as on-ice goals go, Tomasino held a goal share of 66% – almost two-thirds of a goals scored when he was on the ice went into the other team’s net. Over the course of the season, he frequently kept pace his the rest of his dominant team, and ended the year with a relative goal share of plus-6%.
Taking goal share and rate offence in together, Tomasino is clearly holding his own, with numbers comparable to Akil Thomas, outproducing Jason Robertson and the rest of the team by rate.
Having dug into Tomasino from both scouting and statistical perspectives, it’s hard to conclude anything other than that this is a very solid prospect, potentially underrated by a) arriving a little later than usual, and b) the quality of the team that he played for.
Given his stellar productions and the fact that his skill set is tailor made for the modern NHL, Tomasino has the potential to outperform his draft slot this season. Projected to go somewhere in the 20’s, I think he could be a value pick even as early as the mid-teens. He has the air of a prospect poised to explode offensively in the OHL in the next couple of years, and challenge for an NHL roster spot not long after that.
Additional Charts and Data
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and ontariohockeyleague.com.
Some clips were pulled from videos from prospectshifts.com. Check out Philip Tomasino’s page here (paywall). Other clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
Dad, husband, hockey fan. Founder/analyst/editor/admin of NextGenHockey.ca. Contributor at CanucksArmy and the Nation Network. Blending video analysis and statistical modeling. pGPS, SEAL, etc. The Minnesota Twins are finally good again!