Out of all of the Calgary Flames players that have been rumoured to be on the move this offseason, Tyler Toffoli looks to be the most likely. The main reason being that he is the only player of the 2024 UFA crop that NHL insiders have been clear in stating that he has been made available for a deal.
Toffoli was the Flames best player last season, which is saying a lot, but has been quite the obvious trade chip for the team entering the offseason.
Tyler Toffoli’s player type
Toffoli has one year left on his deal that has a cap hit of $4.25M, one that is extremely reasonable for someone coming off a career season. Toffoli had 34 goals and 39 assists in a season that blew his career highs out of the water. At 31 years old, he is most likely looking to sign one more big contract and last season showed that his career is far from over.
He is going to be a big add to any team’s top-six and power play because he has been simply phenomenal the last three seasons:
Add in some key penalty kill time, and Toffoli is an all-around player that is going to help a contending team compete for the Stanley Cup. That alone is going to make him extremely attractive, even if he doesn’t immediately sign a contract extension.
The asset management point of view on Toffoli
The Flames gave up quite a lot when they originally acquired Toffoli around the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. The Flames sent Tyler Pitlick and Emil Heineman to the Montreal Canadiens in addition to their 2022 first-round, 2023 fifth-round, and 2024 fourth-round picks, with a bunch of conditions attached. The conditions did not impact the initial package so it stayed the same.
A first- and a fifth-round pick, Heineman, and Pitlick was an expensive but necessary deal to get done for the the Flames who finally were looking to go all in. Add in the fourth-round pick the Flames gave up to originally get Pitlick in the summer, and you are talking a four-asset haul for Toffoli. It’s hard to guess whether the Flames can obtain the same now, which means they may come out on the negative side here in terms of total assets.
The price teams should be paying for Toffoli
At the draft, offensive forwards typically aren’t the hottest commodities. Last season, Alex DeBrincat went for a first-, a second-, and a third-round pick. That first-round pick was the seventh overall, which does increase its value, but it’s still not as many assets as you would get for someone at the NHL Trade Deadline.
The biggest whiff in terms of draft day trades in recent memory was the St. Louis Blues’ acquisition of Pavel Buchnevich for a second-round pick and Sammy Blais. The Flames cannot afford to let that happen.
Based on his season last year—combined with his career performance and pedigree—Toffoli should be able to get a first-round pick plus something else. If not, the multiple second-round picks and a prospect should be considered the lowest bar.
Remember, the team doesn’t have to trade him. They could hold on to him until the deadline, but the risk of injury or poor performance could hurt his value even more.
Team to target and Toffoli trade proposals
In terms of teams to look out for, the obvious one is the Carolina Hurricanes who have been rumoured as a fit for Toffoli for a while now. It makes all sorts of sense. If you include the 30th overall pick this year, add in the additional second-rounder they have next year, it’s something the Flames could at least look into. The Canes also have a deep prospect pool they could pull from, which we know Flames fans salivate at all the time.
Another team that could be in play is the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s not rebuild time yet in Pittsburgh, and the team needs to fill out some scoring depth around their big three. They aren’t rich in draft capital or prospects, but I wonder if they would maybe swap picks with the Flames to move down a few spots while acquiring Toffoli and sending over another draft pick. It’s not as good as what Carolina could do, but it’s intriguing.
Would a reunion in Los Angeles make sense here? They could be a team to watch if they are unable to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois. They know and love Toffoli, Toffoli loves them as well, and the Kings have a ridiculous amount of prospects they could dangle. It’s not crazy.
Looking at the draft board, and how aggressive they may be after this season, could Seattle be a fit? It’s hard to say what Seattle will do now, but after the add of Oliver Bjorkstrand last summer, a Toffoli addition could be unreal for the expansion franchise.
The final team that could be interesting here are the Vegas Golden Knights. They may lose Ivan Barbashev and Phil Kessel in free agency and could be looking to shore up their forward group. Toffoli fits their vibes and the 32nd pick as well as Buffalo’s third-rounder this year looks not too shabby.
The best outcome on trading Toffoli
Despite some intrigue from other teams, Carolina just makes the absolute most sense here. The late first-round pick and prospect doesn’t seem that amazing, but if the Flames could get someone like Aleksi Heimosalmi or Gleb Trikozov that could be a sneaky good play for the organization.
What is key for Toffoli is that it cannot be a hockey trade, the Flames gave up a ton of futures for him when they acquired him. They need to get some of that back.