Ranging from the worst season of Anze Kopitar’s career to the NHL’s worst five-on-five shooting percentage, there were plenty of offensive shortcomings to dissect over a third consecutive lengthy offseason for the Kings.
Enough, perhaps, for Tyler Toffoli’s drop-off to fly farther beneath the radar than it should have.
If the 25-year-old winger would have continued his career trajectory last season, it would have landed him among the NHL’s elite goal scorers.
Instead, his season was marred by a knee injury in December that shelved him for 19 games and plagued him for the remaining 30 after he returned. In a contract year, no less, he found himself in the awkward position of being healthy enough to play, but not to his capability.
“Definitely not to my capability,” Toffoli said, “and it definitely showed in my game.”
A season after scoring 31 goals, Toffoli nearly cut that total in half in 2016-17. He scored just 16 times and his point total plummeted from 58 to 34.
Taffoli’s plus-14 led the Kings before his stretch of 149 consecutive games ended Dec. 22, 2016. The severity of his knee injury required surgery immediately after the season.
“It’s something that I needed to do,” Toffoli said. “I’d say toward the end of the summer is when I started to feel a lot more confident in it. Once we started skating again and it felt better than it had during last season, that’s when I really started to get excited for this year.”
Knee surgery was just one of several major events this offseason for the five-year veteran.
Though the dollar figure assuredly would have been higher had Toffoli approached 40 goals last season instead of a precipitous fall to 16, the restricted free agent’s three-year, $13.8 million extension was something he is happy to have done in fairly painless fashion.
By comparison, linemate Tanner Pearson signed a four-year, $15 million deal a month before Toffoli’s contract extension.
“It was a big summer for me growing up,” Toffoli said. “All those things come with a lot more responsibility.”
Considering the Kings’ need for offense, he will have no shortage of responsibility on the ice.
The most notable among three rule changes announced by the NHL Thursday was the assessment of a minor penalty for losing a coach’s challenge of an offsides call on a scoring…