Taking a look at key Western Conference prospects Toffoli, Pirri, Connauton and Raanta
We’re deep into August and the NFL pre-season is in full swing. For us that is a sure sign that the start of another hockey campaign is just around the corner. Training camps for the NHL get under way in less than a month and even sooner than that we will all be experiecing serious bouts of draft madness. Let’s take a look at some prospects who are primed to take the next step in their careers.
To say that the King’s Toffoli had a great season in 2012-13 would be putting it mildly. Toffoli put his impressive offensive skill set on full display with L.A.’s AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs, where his performance earned him the AHL Rookie of the Year award. He followed that up with 10 regular season games and 12 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, picking up five and six points respectively. His playoff performance was impressive for a prospect with just 69 total games at the pro level. To step in and handle the pressure of the playoffs and excel bodes well for him going forward. Toffoli’s ability to play either wing will be an asset for both the King’s and fantasy owners as he could possibly move to the left wing to fill one of the open spots following the departure of Dustin Penner and Simon Gagne. He may start out playing a bottom six role, but don’t look for that to last long, especially if he does move to the left side. There’s every reason to believe he will be seeing time on the Richards line, and the odd shift or game with Kopitar. If Toffoli lands a spot in the top-six fantasy owners can realistically expect 40-50 points from him this season.
With Dave Bolland now plying his trade in Toronto, the Blackhawk’s are looking for somebody to step up and take over the second-line center spot. This could be the chance for Pirri to step up and stake his claim now. Pirri has been considered one of the front-runners for the spot for a while now and looks every bit the part. This past season he led the AHL in scoring with 75 points in 76 games. That said the job won’t be handed to him. There are several candidates vying for it – veteran Michal Handzus, Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger and even Brandon Saad, who has been a winger during his brief NHL career, is said to have first crack at it. Even if Pirri doesn’t come away with the job in camp look for him to see plenty of time in Chicago this season. Obviously his best, and really only chance barring injuries, at a top-six role would be as the second line center. He could still make an impact as the center on the third line though. Depending on how the competition for the second ce