The Montreal Canadiens have landed one of the top remaining free agents, agreeing to terms with Tyler Toffoli to a four-year contract worth a total of $17MM. That gives Toffoli a $4.25MM average annual value, actually a little lower than the $4.6MM cap hit he has carried the last three seasons and well below what most believed he would receive this off-season. The deal also does not contain any trade protection.
Toffoli, 28, has settled for a multi-year deal that pays him market value for his floor, but not close to his ceiling. Toffoli is a four-time 20-goal scorer, including one season with over 30 tallies, and has four seasons of 40+ points. While he did have a pair of seasons with the Los Angeles Kings in which he only managed 34 points, his norm is well above that mark. In fact, his 82-game pace with the Kings and Vancouver Canucks last season was 29 goals and 53 points. 82 games is not uncommon for Toffoli either; the two-way winger has played in every game in three seasons and has never played in fewer than 62 games since becoming a full-time NHLer. If Toffoli can stay healthy through this contract, which does take him into his thirties, and scores even at his career average rate, this is a bargain deal for the Canadiens.
Toffoli plays a smart, two-way style. He isn’t overly physical and doesn’t dominate the typical defensive stats, but is a capable penalty killer and an effective forechecker. Offensively, Toffoli can make zone entries, gets to the net, and creates scoring opportunities. A solid all-around player, Toffoli has been an analytics darling throughout his career with his ability to positively impact play leading to strong possession numbers and high scoring expectations. With Montreal, Toffoli joins a now lethal group at right wing, including fellow new acquisition Josh Anderson and career Canadien Brendan Gallagher. Toffoli is likely to challenge for a top line role, but there is no way of knowing how that group will shake out. Either way, Toffoli will produce at even strength and will be an asset on special teams.
While this signing should make Montreal fans very happy, fans of another team in Canada have to be frustrated at this point. Prior to the opening of free agency, the Vancouver Canucks had stated over and over that they hoped to re-sign all three of Toffoli, Jacob Markstrom, and Chris Tanev, if at all possible. Four days into free agency, Toffoli’s deal with the Habs means the Canucks have lost all three of their “priorities” this off-season, with Markstom and Tanev joining the rival Calgary Flames. The inexplicable inactivity out of Vancouver is one of the biggest head-scratchers of the off-season, especially with Toffoli signing such a reasonable deal.