No team has won back-to-back Stanley Cups since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. It was difficult to do then, and it is even more difficult now considering the multitude of measures the league has put into place to improve parity and encourage competitiveness. The current NHL demands consistent improvement and while the pipeline has suffered as a result of trades and graduations, the Kings still boast a varied and talented group of prospects, many of whom will be looked upon to replace the older players on the roster within the next few years with the hope of extending the team’s Cup window.
1. (2) Tyler Toffoli, RW, 8.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 47th overall, 2010
When the Kings acquired Jeff Carter last spring, they got the type of player that Toffoli is on track to become. The best word to describe them both is opportunistic. With a lethal array of shots, a quick release, and pinpoint accuracy, Toffoli is a complementary player of the finest variety. Natural finishing talent is hard to come by and he possesses it in spades.
Toffoli has never been and will never be a top two-way forward or skater, but his feet and defensive awareness have improved year by year to the extent that he has morphed from a pure triggerman into a relatively well-rounded player. This will be the first year the young forward seriously challenges for a roster spot, but even should he miss the cut, he will have a great opportunity to bring some much needed flash to a Manchester Monarchs team that finished the 2011-12 season with just one 50-point scorer on the roster.