On Valentine’s day this year, the Calgary Flames went out and acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens. Toffoli performed well for about the first month, but after that he seemed to go invisible.
This season, with a bigger role on the Flames, Toffoli has taken a huge step forward. He currently sits third for points on the Flames with 21. Along side better production, Toffoli has been way more consistent and has been one of the best Flames so far.
Let’s take deeper look at Toffoli’s play this season compared to last season.
Comparing Toffoli’s numbers over the past two seasons
Looking at some 5v5 score- and venue-adjusted numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com can show us just how much Toffoli has improved this season.
|2021–22||48.18 (last)||54.50 (2nd last)||47.99 (last)||44.82 (last)|
|2022–23||57.80 (3rd best)||56.07 (5th best)||56.17 (3rd best)||58.43 (2nd best)|
These numbers show us that his past two seasons have so far been polar opposites. Toffoli ranked last on the Flames in all but one metric where he ranked second last, but this season he’s in the top five for all metrics.
Looking at his PDO from both years, he was a little unlucky last season with PDO of 0.990 and he has had some luck go his way with a PDO of 1.005. Both are close to the average PDO of 1.000, but it’s interesting to see that the difference of his stats isn’t a product of luck.
Diving deeper into Toffoli’s improved play using analytic models
Starting off with JFresh’s 2021–23 cards, we can see that Toffoli has improved in every realm of the game this season. The most noticeable improvements is his even strength play. His even strength offence jumped up from 42% to 65% which makes for a difference of 23%. His even strength defence is the biggest change going from 18% to 48%, a difference of 30%. Other stats have minor changes except for his finishing which had a small boost from 31% to 40%.
Moving over to Evolving-Hockey.com, we will be look at their regularized adjusted plus-minus (RAPM) charts. The RAPM chart one the left is from 2021–22 and the one on the right is from this current season.
We can see once again that Toffoli has improved at both ends of the ice. All the offensive per 60 metrics have improved with CF/60 improving the most, and both of the defensive metrics have greatly improved.
Finishing off with HockeyViz.com, we will look at some 5v5 charts that show us the Flames offence and defence with and without Toffoli on the ice. For those unfamiliar with these charts, here is a quick summary. Red represents shots and offence creation, so the deeper the red, the more shot and offence creation, as for the blue, it represents where shots and offence are struggling to be created, so the deeper the blue, the less shots and offence. With that, it’s better to have red for offence and better to have blue for defence.
Toffoli in 2021–22:
Toffoli in 2022–23:
As we can see the Flames were better without Toffoli last season, yet this season it’s the complete opposite. Starting with offence: last year, Toffoli generated a ton of offence from the point, but around the net there was the ocean of death that killed most of his results. With Toffoli the Flames had a +2% and xGF/60 of 2.65 which is okay, but without him they had a +17% and a xGF/60 of 3.04 which I would consider really good.
Now looking at this year the Flames offensive results look a lot better with him. Toffoli still struggles around the same area he did last season but not to the same extent, and he generates shots in more dangerous areas such as the middle of the zone. With him on the ice the Flames have a +9% and xGF/60 of 2.96 compared to without where they have a -5% and a xGF/60 of 2.59. The Flames offence is definitely better with Toffoli.
Moving to the other end of the ice, Toffoli’s defensive results are completely different from last year. When out on the ice, the Flames were allowing a ton of shots to be generated in front of the net and in the middle of the zone. They had a +10%, and because it’s defence, a positive number is not good, and a xGA of 2.87. Comparing that to without Toffoli, they had a -13% and a xGA/60 of only 2.27.
This season, Toffoli’s defensive game did a full 180°. With him, the Flames have defended extremely well in front of the net, the low slot, and middle of the zone which are some of the areas that create the most dangerous chances. The Flames have an amazing -17% and xGA/60 of 2.26 with him on the ice. Without him, the Flames still defend solid in front of the net, but struggle in the slot and in the middle of the zone. They only have a -4% and xGA/60 of 2.61 when Toffoli is on the bench.
We can see that last year, Toffoli dragged the team down a little bit when he was out there, but this is a completely different story as he is a very valuable piece to this Flames team.
Toffoli is now the player the Flames thought they were getting
Tyler Toffoli has taken huge step forwards after being given a bigger role to play this year and that has been crucial for the Flames. Toffoli plays more consistent and produces more frequently. He was at the bottom of the team ranking in xG%, CF%, SCF%, and HDCF% last year, but this year he ranks near the top in each metric.
When we dive into some analytical models, we can see that his play at both ends of the ice have improved tremendously compared last year, especially his defence, going from horrid to possibly some of the best on the team.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire