EL SEGUNDO, CA — A mild surprise during the 2012-13 season for the Los Angeles Kings was that rookie right wing Tyler Toffoli, who had not even spent a full season at the American Hockey League level, got more than the typical handful of games at the National Hockey League level, and on top of that, he did not look out of place, not one bit.
But a few months later, Toffoli knows that he is not necessarily guaranteed a spot on the Kings’ 2013-14 roster, so he dedicated himself to a rigorous off-season training regimen, something he talked about back in July.
“I don’t want to just be in good shape,” said the 21-year-old native of Scarborough, Ontario. “I want to be in the best shape I can, so I have to keep working hard.”
At the Kings’ 2013 Rookie Camp, which began on Thursday, Toffoli joined 26 other prospects, all trying to make a good impression, and he elaborated on his off-season work.
“When I left at the end of the year, [head coach Darryl Sutter] really wanted me to work hard, get stronger, work on my skating, and learn to be a pro, and I think I took a huge step,” he noted. “I was here for a month, working out, putting in a lot of time and effort. I’m really looking forward to the season to start, and I want to make the team.”
Heading into the 2013-14 season, the Kings are expected to give the 6-1, 187-pound right wing a long, hard look on left wing. But earlier this summer, Toffoli was not focused on that possibility.
“When I go back home, I’m going to be doing a lot more skating,” Toffoli said back in July. “I don’t think I’ll be working a whole lot on the left side. I’m going to be working on everything. My whole game needs to be better, and I’m going to keep working hard at it.”
Apparently, things changed.
“I took more reps on the left side, working on my pivoting both [directions], and just being quicker,” Toffoli indicated. “That’s something people think I’m not very good at, so I’ve been working hard, and I think I’ve taken a real big step this [summer].”
He also worked on his loose puck battles along the boards and in the corners.
“I’ve been working hard [on that], and that’s something Darryl and [President/General Manager] Dean [Lombardi] really focused on, so I really try [to] be good at that,” said Toffoli. “It’s something that I really take pride in now, in my game.”
Toffoli indicated that he is not fazed by playing on his off wing.
“I played [left wing] a couple of times in junior, and I played a couple of games here,” Toffoli noted. “I don’t really see a huge difference. You’ve just got to take pucks on your backhand, and be strong on your stick. We’ll see what happens in [training] camp.”
If all goes well in training camp, Toffoli could find himself on the Kings’ second line, with right wing Jeff Carter and center Mike Richards.
“They’re easy guys to play with,” he noted. “They’re all-stars in the league, and if I get a chance to play with them, I’ll do what I can to stay on that line, and play my best.”
“I just want to make the team. I want to be here, full-time, and earn my spot on the team.”
Video of Interview With Tyler Toffoli: LA Kings 2013 Rookie Camp, September 6, 2013, via FrozenRoyaltyNHL on YouTube
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