Since the end of last season, not a lot has gone right for the Calgary Flames. In fact, that statement could probably be traced back a lot further than just last season alone, but silver linings here people.
The pain has continued into the 2023-24 campaign where the team finds themselves 31st in the NHL with a 2–6–1 record. Before the season even really got underway, the team could already be looking at a lost campaign.
But you know who is not feeling that way? Tyler Toffoli.
Being one of seven pending UFAs on the books for the Flames heading into the summer, Toffoli was the only member of the team to get dealt. He was sent to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Yegor Sharangovich and a third-round pick (that would become Aydar Suniev).
In just under ten games, that trade is already aging atrociously for the Flames and it may already be time to call a winner.
Tyler Toffoli’s side
In case you have been living under a rock, or purposely ignoring the news in New Jersey, you may have missed that Toffoli was named first star of the week on Monday. With a 6–1—7 stat line over four games, Toffoli scored more goals himself than the Flames have in their last four games. So that’s fun.
Toffoli has been given a prime assignment alongside NHL superstar Jack Hughes, which surely helps the stat line. But as of this point in time, Toffoli leads the Devils in goal with seven goals in eight games. In addition to three assists, he’s in line to have another career season.
The Devils have gotten everything and more that they expected out of Toffoli and this is only going to increase.
The Flames’ side
When looking at the Flames side of the deal, it hasn’t been as flashy.
Yegor Sharangovich has one goal and one assist in nine games with the Flames, meaning he has had more changes in linemates this season than he has points. It’s not fully on Sharangovich, as he’s been given very limited opportunities with the team’s best players. He’s most recently found himself on the fourth line in a centre role, but that won’t even last long.
After so much talk about his dangerous shot, he has only been given 6:49 of power play time so far and in a fourth line checking role, it’s not the best use of his skills.
That being said, he has slid into the hole left by Toffoli on the penalty kill like a glove, which has been one of the team’s strengths.
Suniev took a hot minute to start playing with UMass this season but has so far registered three goals and one assist in four games. He’s still 18 years old, but he’s the key X-factor in this trade.
Make it make sense
Regardless of the optimism you may have over Sharangovich and Suniev, this trade looks god-awful.
The reports were clear, from multiple sources, that Toffoli asked for a trade after not receiving a long-term contract offer from the Flames. So trading him makes sense if you’re looking at that comment alone, but at the same time, there was absolutely no requirement to do so.
Plus, the team’s main focus was to make small adjustments to last year’s team, change the coach, and run it back. So why would the Flames decide to trade away just their leading scorer? Who knows.
The Flames held onto all of their other UFAs and should have done so with Toffoli to further capitalize on his strong season. There is no way that he would have had the same production as he has had in New Jersey, but surely they could have gotten a larger return had they waited a bit longer. Now Toffoli is looking like one of the best players in the league to start the season, while the Flames were left with magic beans.
The Flames’ goal was to get younger and to play Sharangovich higher in the lineup. They got younger in the deal, but have not given him that opportunity yet and currently have him in the bottom-six. Additionally, Sharangovich’s cap hit is just $1.1M less than Toffoli’s, which means they are getting a worse financial deal along the way.
All in all, just not a great result.
A sign of poor things to come
The Toffoli trade just doesn’t look good, but what is more concerning is that so far this is the only trade on Craig Conroy’s resume. Since it’s looking like he is going to need to make several significant deals in the coming months, this doesn’t breathe a lot of confidence into any future deals.
It’s silly of anyone to judge Conroy on just one deal, but at the same time his lack of action so far just leaves an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. The team is going to need to do a heck of a lot better than the Toffoli deal if they want to trend in the right direction.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire