No that wasn’t a dream. Brad Treliving actually just went all-in and acquired a top-six right winger all while winning a major trade in the process. In a year of impressive and positive surprises for the Calgary Flames, yesterday’s trade for Tyler Toffoli was the biggest yet. The Flames have been linked for Toffoli for a few weeks now, and understandably so. We wrote about how Toffoli was essentially a perfect fit for the Flames considering their current needs.
He would’ve been one of the top targets available on trade deadline day so it’s a massive win for Treliving and the organization that the Flames were able to close the deal a month out from the deadline. Treliving actually spoke to Pierre LeBrun just last week and mentioned he would like to get any potential additions to the roster out of the way well in advance of the trade deadline. Well he did just that.
So what did it cost, and what does Toffoli bring to the table? Let’s take a deeper look.
A fair price to pay
After wild speculation on what the return might be for Toffoli with fans guessing the likes of Dillon Dube and/or Matthew Coronato or Jakob Pelletier going the other way, the eventual cost was much lower. Here’s how the full deal breaks down.
I suggested back in January that a potential deal for Toffoli could be something along the lines of the Flames’ 2022 first-round pick along with a prospect like Ryan Francis or Emil Heineman, and it turns out it was exactly that.
I had suggested the Canadiens would likely retain some salary to make the deal work, but instead they shipped Tyler Pitlick’s $1.75 million AAV along with a fifth-round pick to Montreal. The way it played out may not help the team as much in the offseason, but for this season it works just as well as if the Canadiens had retained salary.
All things considered, the eventual cost was a massive win for Treliving and the Flames. The price to acquire Toffoli was thought to be much higher as mentioned. Most people assumed the Flames would need to give up one of their top prospects in Coronato or Pelletier in any deal for Toffoli. That wasn’t the case after all.
Instead the Flames only had to give up Emil Heineman, who was acquired from the Panthers in last year’s Sam Bennett deal. Back in June we had Heineman ranked as the Flames’ 14th best prospect. He would certainly be ranked a tad higher if we re-did the list right now, but regardless he is far from the Flames top prospect and certainly doesn’t hold anywhere close to the same value as Coronato or Pelletier.
Also of note is the fact Treliving learned from the disastrous Travis Hamonic trade that nearly cost the Flames Andrei Svechnikov in 2018, and top-10-protected the 2022 first-round pick in this deal. That said, if the Flames are drafting anywhere near the top 10 something has gone very wrong to finish the season, but it’s still nice to have that insurance just in case.
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Toffoli was making the best out of a bad situation
Despite player on arguably the NHL’s worst team this season, Toffoli has still been able to post some solid numbers across the board. Offensively he’s posted 26 points in 37 games, which ranked second on the Canadiens behind only Nick Suzuki who’s played 11 more games.
His underlying numbers haven’t been great this season, but you obviously have to consider the team he plays for. He still ranks as one of the Canadiens tops forwards in most metrics. His xGF% of 48.30 ranked second among Canadiens forwards, his 48.65 HDCF% ranked third, and his CF% of of 47.17 also ranked third.
When looking at total goals above replacement courtesy of Evolving-Hockey.com, Toffoli ranks second among Canadiens forwards this season.
Again it’s worth noting just how much the Canadiens are dragging his numbers down this season. Toffoli has never posted a CF% below 50% in his entire career, and has only posted an xGF% below 50% twice, so it’s fair to assume his numbers will skyrocket once playing for a good team again.
Toffoli is among the best right wingers in the NHL
Back in January when the Flames were first linked with Toffoli, we broke down Toffoli’s history of borderline elite finishing ability. As a refresher let’s take a look how his numbers break down over the past three seasons among right wingers in the NHL.
|Stat||Tyler Toffoli||NHL rank among right wingers|
(2019–20 to 2021–22)
It’s no exaggeration to say Toffoli’s one of the best goal scoring right wingers in the entire NHL. Only David Pastrnak, Mikko Rantanen, William Nylander, and Bryan Rust have more goals over the last three seasons at right wing.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that Toffoli has produced those numbers over the last three years while spending time with three different teams in that time span. In other words no matter what situation he’s put in, he’s gonna score a ton of goals.
Not only does Toffoli score a lot, he also gets a ton of pucks on net. His 461 shots ranks sixth among right wingers over the last three years, and 27th among all forwards. His 2.87 shots per game in that time span ranks 13th among right wingers.
With how poor the Flames’ production at right wing has been over the years, so it’s not a stretch to say Toffoli may be the best natural right winger offensively the Flames have had since Jarome Iginla.
His underlying numbers have always been strong
What makes Toffoli an even better fit with the Flames is just how strong his underlying numbers are. Throughout his career he’s consistently produced solid numbers. All numbers are 5v5 score and venue adjusted courtesy of naturalstattrick.com. Only players with minimum 1500 minutes TOI were considered.
|Stat||Tyler Toffoli||NHL rank among right wingers|
(2019–20 to 2021–22)
The fact Toffoli nearly ranks inside the top 27 for each metric across three seasons with three different teams is very impressive and shows just how well-rounded, and dominate his offensive game has been over that time span.
Ranking inside the top 10 for ixG and ixGF/60 once again shows that Toffoli is one of the best right wingers in the league at producing goals. In other words, an exact need of this current Flames roster.
If we look back over his even strength impacts over his entire career, it tells a similar story. Throughout his 10 year career he’s consistently put up strong isolated impacts at both ends. His isolated impacts on offence have never been below zero in a single season in his career.
What makes Toffoli stand out from other wingers is how strong he’s been defensively throughout his career as well. There’s a reason he was so successful playing under Darryl Sutter in the past. Outside of his rookie season, his two years in Montreal, and the 2017–18 season, Toffoli’s isolated impacts on defence have been very strong and he’s helped limit opposition chances.
Brad Treliving actually referenced Toffoli’s two-way ability when speaking about the trade yesterday, even bringing up some terms like shot suppression and volume. You can tell Treliving has clearly done his research on Toffoli.
As well, Toffoli’s former coach Darryl Sutter mentioned in his media availability yesterday that Toffoli is a multi-position player who can play in all situations for a team.
A remarkable move from Treliving
He may get a lot of hate from the fan base—especially in recent years—however Treliving deserves a ton of credit for getting this deal done. After missing out on so many big names, he made sure that didn’t happen again this time.
Not only is Toffoli a perfect fit for the Flames and fills an exact need, they gave up less than expected in the deal, didn’t remove any current players from the lineup, avoided giving up any of the team’s top prospects, and got the deal done well in advance of the trade deadline.
Where Toffoli fits in the Flames lineup going forward is the next question, however there’s no doubt this move was a huge win for the Flames and they’ll be a much better team with Toffoli. After so many years, the Flames finally have their top-six right winger and Treliving has finally committed to going all in. It’s an exciting time to be a Flames fan.