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Prospect to Pro: Philip Tomasino’s Valuable Rookie Season in Nashville

As the Nashville Predators arrived for Training Camp ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, many looked to several promising young skaters as the key to a successful season.

Few probably predicted the impact from 19-year-old Mississauga, Ontario native philip tomasino.

In his first NHL season, Tomasino notched 32 points (11g-21a) in 76 games – a noteworthy contribution from any skater, much less the youngest on the Predators roster.

“He stuck his nose in there and quietly had 30 points,” Assistant Coach Dan Hinote said. “I kept waiting for the games to get too big for him, or the intimidation factor to settle in or some one team to bully him and it never happened. He just kept coming and coming and he would take his licks and get back up, and he’d go right back to the hard areas and make plays – he was just never afraid for a kid his age.”

“I thought it was a really good first season for him as a rookie coming in,” Predators Head Coach John Hynes said. “I think that he has the natural skillset to be able to play in the NHL. He’s got a really good hockey sense, good offensive skills and good speed. And I think physically he was at a level to be able to be a regular contributor for us.”

Video: philip tomasino‘s Top 10 Goals of 2021-22

Tomasino came into the League after taking advantage of a unique season in the American Hockey League with the Chicago Wolves.

With many of the AHL’s top players standing by on the NHL’s COVID taxi squads, the then 18-year-old forward found enough space to put up an impressive 32 points (13g-19a) in 29 games.

“I thought that was a really great springboard for him,” Milwaukee Admirals General Manager and Predators Assistant GM Scott Nichol said. “It was n’t the hard, heavy American League. It was a little bit watered down. He got his confidence from him and he had some hard games that really opened his eyes. I thought he grew from those moments and then he brought those moments up here.”

From dazzling in the AHL to earning a regular spot on Nashville’s roster, Tomasino soon earned another spot on Nashville’s second power-play unit, where the forward tallied nine of his 32 points.

Assistant Coach Dan Lambert – the man behind the Predators threatening new power play – believes Tomasino has what it takes to become a key contributor.

“This is the first time we’ve had a true first unit and a true second unit,” Lambert said. “[Tomasino] probably didn’t play as many power-play minutes as he would have liked, but I think whenever he did have success it pushed our first unit as well. I’m excited because I do believe that he can be a really good power-play player. I think he’s learning to not just use his shot from him, but learning to use a shot tip or shoot to create or pass down low to allow [his teammates] to have success and not just be one dimensional. I think that’s really come out and it’s going to continue to improve.”

But perhaps the greatest experience accrued during Tomasino’s rookie season came over just 31 minutes of ice time in three postseason appearances against the Colorado Avalanche.

“We put him in Game 1 and we felt he was a little bit overwhelmed,” Hynes said. “In talking with him after the game, he said that it was the most intense hockey he had ever played – whether it was the intensity level of the game, the speed, the competitiveness, or the intensity of the crowd, particularly in a road We put him back in for Games 3 and 4, and obviously they were home games, but he certainly played better.”

“Those three games were massive,” Hinote said. “I think you learn so much more when you lose than you do when you win… I think it was great for our young core to get a taste of it – to see the importance of every little play, or to get an overtime game and see the importance of goaltending.There are just so many things that playoffs show you as a hockey player that you can’t get during the regular season.So, even though it was short lived, I feel like that experience will pay dividends going forward .”

With a full NHL season now under his belt, Tomasino will certainly be a player to watch when the Predators return to the ice in October.

“We were pleasantly surprised all year long with his resilience and his battle and his willingness to compete,” Hinote said. “We ask a lot and our identity is very physical, it’s in your face, and for a 19-year-old kid that’s not an easy thing to grasp, and I thought he did a great job. So, we’re all very excited to see where his game goes next year. He took the licks that you should take as a rookie and came out the other side.”

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