The NHL trade deadline is still weeks away, but the Calgary Flames did some early purchasing, acquiring Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.
It’s easy to understand why – Toffoli is an ideal fit.
He’s an undisputed top-six talent with two more years on his current contract. A proven goal-scorer, Toffoli also identifies with the Flames brand of 200-foot hockey.
The fact that Flames GM Brad Treliving picked up another scoring winger and gave up nothing of importance from the active roster has taken his popularity to new heights in Calgary Flames fan circles. A first-round pick that is top-10 protected, a fifth-rounder next year, prospect Emil Heineman and winger Tyler Pitlick secured Toffoli’s services for the next few years at a $4.25 cap hit.
What Toffoli contributes to the team in the short and long term remains to be seen, but the underlying theme here is the Flames are going for it. The trade was a statement in itself. The Calgary Flames believe they can make some noise in the playoffs.
“We’ve got a long ways to go yet but you do take your cues from the team. The players have done their job, it was time for me to do mine,” Treliving said on Monday. “Certainly, the way they’ve been playing and the way we’ve been playing, I think it was time to give them some help.”
Flames add proven goal-scorer to already hot offence
Help comes in the form of a guy who has scored nearly 200 regular-season goals in just shy of a decade as a full-time NHLer. The Stanley Cup winner being reunited with the head coach he won with as a rookie in 2014.
“He’s a winner, a two-position player, 200-foot player, scores goals, kills penalties, can play on the powerplay,” Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said of Toffoli. “He’s a good player.”
Sutter praised his discipline and said he “plays the right way,” which is something Tofolli is excited to do under Sutter again.
“They’re all buying into Darryl’s style,” Toffoli said of the success he’s seen the Calgary Flames enjoy. “Even last year playing against them, it was never easy. They don’t give up a whole lot. It’s something I was used to. I came into the league obviously playing that style of hockey, and I’m excited to be back at it.”
Toffoli has nine goals and 26 points in 37 games with the Canadiens. He suffered a broken hand but came back weeks early in spite of the Habs’ spot in the standings because of his passion for playing the game.
“We like him a lot. We’ve liked him for a long time,” Treliving said of locking Toffoli up more than a month ahead of the NHL trade deadline. “He’s right in the prime of his career. “
And the Flames seem primed for their best shot at the Cup since their miraculous run in 2004.
Familiarity will make for smooth transition
It shouldn’t take long for Toffoli to adjust. He knows the Sutter style and expectations. Former and now current teammates include Markstrom and Chris Tanev (Vancouver), Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis and Lucic (Los Angeles). And he was a major junior teammate of Sean Monahan’s with the Ottawa 67s.
“I honestly think I know half the guys on the team. And the guys I don’t know, I’ve already got a text from,” Toffoli said. “I just think going to a really good hockey team and a city that wants to win, it’s exciting. There is nothing more exciting than when you’re playing hockey games that mean something in a Canadian city.”
There’s an added excitement in Calgary now.
And the man who made it happen is just as excited as the player.
“With the pedigree he has I think he’s going to be a great addition to our team,” said Treliving.
“It’s a good day today.”