The First Trade Domino Falls: Toffoli to Calgary


Tyler Toffoli is now a Calgary Flame. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Ahead of the March 21 trade deadline, former Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton has already parted with a valuable piece from his new gig in Montreal. Tyler Toffoli is reunited with his former coach, Darryl Sutter, in Calgary for the price of a top-10 protected 2022 first round pick, a 2023 fifth, prospect Emil Heineman and forward Tyler Pitlick. Calgary head-man Brad Treliving makes the first splash after losing out on Jack Eichel as he looks to make a major run in the Pacific Division. 

For Montreal, Gorton and new General Manager Kent Hughes have a tough few weeks ahead of them. This brutal season from the Canadiens proves that it is time to blow it up and get as much draft capital back, especially without their own first round pick from the Christian Dvorak trade. The lone stipulation on that trade was that Arizona would get the better of the Habs two first-rounders, their own and Carolina’s. No one at that time thought that Montreal’s pick would be worse than Arizona’s. Now Montreal holds two firsts and will hope to accumulate more. 

Ben Chiarot is as good as gone, although he probably won’t yield a first-round pick, but with this Toffoli trade, they prove that they don’t just want to get rid of guys on expiring deals. Artturi Lehkonen is a restricted free agent at the end of the season and, at 26 years old, he could be traded. Other than that, players with terms including Mike Hoffman (three years, $4.5 million), Paul Byron (two years, $3.4 million) and goalie Jake Allen (two years, $2.875 million) could have new teams come March. There is not much value on Montreal’s roster outside of the untouchable forwards Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. The Habs currently hold 12 selections in the seven round 2022 draft and it would be shocking if that number wasn’t higher come the end of the deadline. 

As for Calgary, this is a huge win. The only valuable piece they parted with was the first-rounder, which will most likely be in the bottom third of the draft. Pitlick was picked off the scrap pile from Seattle, Heineman was not a high-level prospect and the fifth rounder next year is replaceable. They needed winger depth and to show pending unrestricted free agent Johnny Gaudreau that they are building for the future so he can re-sign in the offseason. They need to capitalize on Jakob Markstrom’s career year and, after being the bridesmaid on the Mark Stone and Eichel sweepstakes, they strike early here with Toffoli.

Toffoli was a major part of the forward core that propelled Montreal to the Stanley Cup Final last season. After not re-signing with the Canucks, he popped in 28 goals in 52 games last season. He has proven over his 615-game career to be a solid middle-six goal scoring winger. He scored 31 goals with LA in 2015-16 for his career high and more than 20 three other times. He provides a necessary scoring option outside of Gaudreau and Andrew Mangiapane from the wing. 

Vegas got better this week with Eichel’s return, Edmonton added Evander Kane and now Calgary has added scoring to their top six. This trade just made the Pacific much more interesting and there is still a month to go until the end of the trading period.