"Pucks with Haggs" publishes twice a week. Subscribe here and get Pucks with Haggs straight to your email! Please feel free to comment, share, like, etc. And Subscribe! Thanks and see you at the rinks!
Things are clearly about to get real at the NHL trade deadline with the first big deal of the season going down this week.
The new Montreal Canadiens management group got a head start on the trade deadline rush by dealing winger Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2022 first round pick, a 2024 fifth round pick, forward Tyler Pitlick and prospect Emil Heineman. The 29-year-old Toffoli has two more years on his contract following this season at a $4.25 million cap hit, so that was a consideration in the package Calgary unloaded to Montreal in the trade.
But that’s still a ton for a player that’s on pace for 15 goals and 44 points this season while posting a minus-8 thus far for the struggling Habs. Toffoli did pot 28 goals for the Canadiens last season and has topped 30 goals once in his career, but we’re also talking about a player now on his fourth NHL team that’s topped 50 points just once in his NHL career.
Toffoli’s 182 goals and 370 points in 614 regular season games and 16 goals and 39 points in 76 playoff games is certainly a solid enough body of work, but they’re also far below star attraction when push comes to shove.
Everybody is expecting that it’s going to take a first-round pick, a top prospect and an NHL roster player as the crux of a deal for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun when push comes to shove, but not as many expected Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes to get that kind of considerable trade package for a good player in Toffoli.
There are some unique circumstances here, of course, given Toffoli’s past history with Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter, who was also the bench boss in Los Angeles when Toffoli, Sutter and fellow Calgary Flames winger Milan Lucic all played there.
Toffoli and Sutter won a Stanley Cup together during their time in Los Angeles as the Flames continue to build up to those hopes and aspirations with the Flames.
"I've been chasing Tyler Toffoli since my days in Phoenix and his draft year," said Flames GM Brad Treliving after the deal was done. "You look at the data on him, when you dig into it, the ability to drive play, shot generation and shot suppression is strong.
“We’ve liked (Toffoli) for a long time. He’s been a real productive player in the league. He’s still a young one -- he’s right in the prime of his career. You hate parting with high draft assets. Emil’s a good player, and we really like him. We went and got him last year [in a deal with Florida]. So, I think what we gave to get the player shows you that we think he’s a good fit and we think he’s a good player.”
There’s no doubt that Toffoli is adored by the fancy stats crew with an ability to create shots and offensive chances during 5-on-5 play, and his considerable playoff experience is another attractive part of his hockey resume.
But it sets a baseline standard for the hockey trade market when it comes to Chychrun, Montreal defenseman Jeff Petry and perhaps most of all for Vancouver Canucks forward JT Miller. The 28-year-old Miller still has two years left on his contract in Vancouver and has put up similar offensive numbers to Toffoli during his career playing for the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Vancouver Canucks.
Teams like the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild will have to pony up similar trade packages with first round picks, prospects and an NHL roster player along with additional draft pick sweeteners like the fifth rounder in the Toffoli trade.
It will be fewer total trade assets for rental players like Claude Giroux, Phil Kessel, Ben Chiarot, Marc-Andre Fleury, John Klingberg and Max Domi among others, but make no mistake that a first-round pick is still going to be the tried-and-true expectation for the best available among the bunch.
Credit Montreal for getting a jump on things and potentially getting a bevy of solid assets for a player like Toffoli that might not net as much around the trade deadline. And absolutely give the Flames a check mark for making a preemptive move to address their top-6 scoring that absolutely needed another solid scoring threat.
But it’s also a cautionary tale to other NHL contenders, and their respective GMs, that they are going to have to shell out the good, top shelf stuff to land their trade targets when the trade deadline arrives next month.