The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey community. Eight writers and 320 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2018 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
Starting off this year’s list is a young player that broke into the NHL this past season. Dominic Toninato was signed as an NCAA free agent last August, and took less than one year to make an impact on at playoff bound team.
A former Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick, Toninato played four full years at the University of Minnesota-Deluth. When he was signed by the Avalanche, not many saw him as anything more than organizational depth and a guy that would be around the AHL for a while.
Toninato impressed right away. He opened some eyes at training camp and was viewed as a guy that had a chance to start the season in the NHL. He didn’t, but it wasn’t long before we saw the 24-year old in an Avalanche jersey. His growth this year impressed some fans so much that he found his way into the top-10 for some voters.
Dominic Toninato is older, and doesn’t have the same high-end potential as a lot of the guys on this list, but it makes sense that some people would rank him as high as they did. Oftentimes, people overvalue prospects when comparing them to NHLers. Toninato has established himself as a fringe NHLer at the very least - something many prospects never do. Being a proven NHL player - even if only at a replacement level - has value that should not be overlooked.
Dominic Toninato is a safe/low ceiling guy. The kind of replacement level player that organizations rely on to be the 12th, 13th or 14th forward on the roster. Though he started the season in San Antonio, he was the first call-up from the Rampage when injuries arose. He made his NHL debut on November 18th, recorded an assist as his first NHL point a game later, and then continued to fill out a fourth line role for the next month.
Sent back to the AHL in early December, Toninato was clearly a favorite of the couching staff as he was re-called twice more during the season.
He plays the exact type of game that allows the team to move him up and down between the AHL and NHL as the situation warrants. He isn’t counted on to fill any special teams roles, so not being around practice isn’t the end of the world. Short shifts, forecheck hard and play 7-10 minutes a game. That’s all coaches will ask of Toninato, and that’s what he brings.
Baring any other significant additions or subtractions from the roster this offseason, Toninato is probably going to be in a battle with Vladislav Kamenev and A.J. Greer for the final forward spots at training camp. In all likelihood, we will see the 24-year old playing a big role in the top-9 for the Eagles to start the season. With that said, Toninato does have familiarity on his side. Coach Bednar knows what he has in him, so like last season, we should expect Toninato to be the first call up whenever the Avalanche need it.