Earlier today, we covered reports out of Calgary stating that several important Calgary Flames players, namely Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, and Mikael Backlund, were not planning to sign contract extensions to remain with the team beyond next season. Now, another name can be added to the list of likely-to-depart players: Tyler Toffoli.
It’s another significant blow to the Flames’ hopes of Stanley Cup contention in the near future as the Flames are now readying for the possibility of trading their leading scorer from last season. Toffoli, 31, had a stellar 2022-23, setting a career-high of 34 goals and 73 points.
While he missed the postseason, the two-time Stanley Cup champion captained Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2023 IIHF Men’s World Championships, with his third-period snipe on German netminder Mattias Niederberger effectively clinching the trophy for his country.
But while Toffoli seems to still be in the prime of his career and on a team that won a playoff series just a year ago, these reports indicate that he’s likely to continue his career elsewhere. He’s set to cost $4.25MM against the cap for one more season before hitting unrestricted free agency, and given his exceptional form last season he’d likely be a coveted player on the trade market.
There happens to be a useful comparable to project a potential Toffoli trade this summer: the 2021 deal that sent Toffoli to Calgary. He was coming off of a season where he scored at a 44-goal 69-point pace with the Montreal Canadiens and net his team a first-round pick, a fifth-round pick, and a solid prospect in Emil Heineman.
While Toffoli only has one year of team control left on his contract compared to the two-and-a-half years left on his deal at the time of the last trade, his increased offensive production is likely what will keep his trade value high.
One would imagine Calgary would be looking for a first-round pick as a starting point for any Toffoli trade, though with players such as Nazem Kadri, Jonathan Huberdeau, and MacKenzie Weegar already signed to long-term deals, it’s also feasible GM Craig Conroy might try to target NHL-ready players in return for Toffoli rather than draft compensation.
In any case, this news adds yet another challenge for Conroy to navigate in his first offseason as Brad Treliving’s successor in Calgary. It definitely isn’t an ideal situation for the franchise to be in, but thanks to Toffoli’s exceptional 2022-23 season the team could very well view trading the player as a valuable opportunity to improve the franchise’s long-term outlook rather than a difficult setback.
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