Colorado Avalanche forward Dominic Toninato seems to have found his role with the team — that of a blue collar worker.
The Colorado Avalanche recalled forward Dominic Toninato from the San Antonio Rampage after the Washington Capitols broke their newest rookie, Vladislav Kamenev, whom they were trying out. Toninato gets the distinction of old new rookie because he was a summertime acquisition rather than a mid-season acquisition like Kamenev.
Toninato was one of two college free agents the Avalanche signed over the summer, with Alexander Kerfoot being the other. Toninato completed four years with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, even captaining the team.
That tells you a lot about who Toninato is — a bulldog of a leader. A blue collar forward. He’s known for being a defensive forward — indeed, GM Joe Sakic said at the time of his acquisition:
"“[Toninato]is a big, responsible two-way center and represents a solid prospect for the future of our team.”"
Dominic Toninato’s first NHL game was on the road against the Nashville Predators. The Predators tried to take a page out of the Capitols’ playbook and break this rookie, too:
That’s an ugly hit, and Toninato bore a cut on his face for a while afterward. By the way, it’s also an illegal hit — the NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Austin Watson for two games because of this hit. Anyway, it’s not easy to break a blue collar bulldog, and Dominato came back to the game pretty quickly.
Toninato spoke about the hit in his post-game presser. In your typical plain speak, he described the hit:
"“I just got hit. I hit the boards with my face.”"
Yes, that is exactly what happened. Can’t really argue with that. As he pointed out afterward, “I came back, and we’re good.”
In fine NHL fashion, the team pranked Doninic Toninato before his first game by letting him take the ice all by himself during warm ups:
As you can see, Toninato is completely unphased. He takes his solo lap like it’s the most normal thing in the world to be doing warm ups by yourself.
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Weirdly enough, despite Toninato’s being known for his defensive acumen, that Predators game was the only one in which he saw any penalty killing time. It doesn’t seem to me like the most effective use of the forward, but maybe coach Jared Bednar is still trying to figure out Toninato’s role with the team.
Dom’s linemates have been pretty consistent. He’s been with Nail Yakupov in every game. The only time their linemate has changed from Sven Andrighetto was against the Dallas Stars when Bednar scratched Andrighetto in favor of Gabriel Bourque. However, against the Calgary Flames, Andrighetto was back with Toninato and Yakupov.
He does already have his first point, an assist on defenseman Erik Johnson‘s first goal of the season:
Toninato has been averaging about 8:30 per game.
Kamenev got the call up because Tyson Jost missed 10 games with injuries, so the Avalanche sent him to San Antonio on a conditioning assignment.
I’d say Dominic Toninato might spend a little more time with the Colorado Avalanche, then. He seems to have found a pretty good niche on that fourth line, and he adds that journeyman aspect that ever team needs.