Re-signing Tyler Toffoli Could Be a Bargain for the Canucks

After he was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks before the trade deadline this season, Tyler Toffoli has fit in seamlessly with the team by notching 10 points in as many games with his new squad. Only 28, Vancouver will no doubt try and re-sign Toffoli once he becomes an unrestricted free agent during the offseason. With the team’s impending cap crunch, however, it’s time to project how much he might command and whether or not his asking price will be worth it for the Canucks. 

Projecting Toffoli’s Next Contract

In order to see the type of contract Toffoli might sign, we must first find some recent comparables for him. Over the past year and a half, there have been three players in particular who have inked new deals and has produced similar numbers to Toffoli over the past few seasons: 

Player, age when signedDate of signingPrevious three seasons of production before the signing (over 82 games)Contract
Tyler Toffoli, 28???22 goals, 23 assists, 44 points (rounding)???
Jordan Eberle, 29June 14, 201922 goals, 28 assists, 50 points5 years, $27.5 million, $5.5 million AAV 
Gustav Nyquist, 29July 1, 201919 goals, 32 assists, 51 points4 years, $22 million, $5.5 million AAV
Jakob Silfverberg, 28March 1, 201923 goals, 24 assists, 47 points5 years, $26.25 million, $5.25 million AAV

As you can see, Eberle, Nyquist and Silfverberg all signed contracts with average annual values worth over $5 million that expires during their early to mid-30s. In Silfverberg’s case, I included his production during the 2018-19 campaign since he agreed to his new deal when the season was almost over. 

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One of the things that might be brought up during discussions regarding Toffoli’s extension is the fact that he only put up 34 points last season. Similarly, Eberle produced a lackluster 37 points during his contract year, which might have resulted in him signing for less money. However, I don’t believe Toffoli’s struggles last season will have much impact on his new deal since he bounced back this season and put up great numbers during his brief stint as a Canuck.

Jordan Eberle New York Islanders
Jordan Eberle, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

With that said, the main difference between Toffoli’s extension and the other three players’ is the fact that the former will be signing a deal when the salary cap won’t be changing by much over the next few seasons. Unlike Toffoli, the other players signed their deals assuming that the value of their contracts will depreciate due to inflation and the cap rising. This gave them more leverage during their negotiations since they expected their contracts to lose value over time. 

Since the cap won’t be rising by much in the near future, Toffoli can’t use inflation as leverage to sign a better deal; this is good news for the Canucks because it might result in him taking less money than he would during normal circumstances. 

When looking at these factors, it seems likely that Toffoli will sign a deal close in value to Silfverberg’s, which will be around $5.25 million per season. With the cap freeze, the term of his contract could also be shorter since this will allow him to sign a longer and more lucrative deal once the state of the league has stabilized and the salary cap starts to rise as normal. Ultimately, Toffoli’s next contract will probably be a three or four-year deal worth about $5.25 million per season.

Toffoli’s Next Contract Could Become a Bargain

The more important question to ask, however, is whether or not Toffoli is worth a contract similar to that value. Looking at his advanced stats over the past few seasons, the answer seems to be an emphatic yes. In fact, there’s a good chance that a deal close to that amount will end up becoming a bargain for the Canucks.

Tyler Toffoli Vancouver Canucks
Tyler Toffoli, Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Last season, the Kings had an expected goals rate of 2.77 per 60 minutes when he was on the ice, which was seven percent higher than the league average. This is especially impressive considering that L.A. was one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league. In fact, the team’s expected goals rate plummeted to 2.23 without him, which was an abysmal 14% worse than the average. 

Furthermore, Toffoli put up those numbers while scoring the lowest amount of points since his rookie year. In 68 games with L.A. this season, the Kings had an expected goals rate of 3.13 with him on the ice and 2.32 without, which further puts his offensive prowess on display.

He’s a very reliable two-way player as well. Since the beginning of last season, the Kings have had a 2.31 expected goals against rate per hour with Toffoli on the ice, which is about 10% better than the league average. When he isn’t playing, L.A.’s defense was merely average. 

Moreover, Toffoli drives play at a high level and has done so while playing with sub-par teammates. Over the past two regular seasons with the Kings, he controlled shot attempts over 54% of the time and had an expected goals share of 56.2%.

Over this period, the skater he shared the ice with most often was Jeff Carter, who has actually been a negative when it comes to play-driving. Without Toffoli, Carter has controlled shot attempts 47.1% of the time and had an expected goals share of 45.3% since the start of last season. With Toffoli, however, those numbers jump to over 50%, which just shows how much of a positive impact Toffoli has on his teammates. 

He has already shown off what he’s capable of when surrounded with better linemates, as Toffoli put up 10 points in as many games after being acquired by the Canucks. Producing at a point per game pace is probably unsustainable, but he could flirt with 60 points if he played a full season alongside J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson, who are both elite at driving play. 

Elias Pettersson Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks Elias Pettersson (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Even playing on the second line with Bo Horvat will be a major upgrade over Carter. Toffoli will also be reunited with Tanner Pearson, who he has shown chemistry with when they played in L.A. Replacing Loui Eriksson for Toffoli will also give that line a lot more firepower while not sacrificing much defensively. 

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Taking everything into account, the Canucks need to make re-signing Toffoli one of their top priorities during the offseason. Not only will he likely be signing a cheaper deal than usual, but there’s also a good chance that he will be able to produce career-best numbers by playing alongside much more talented teammates. Toffoli will be able to make Vancouver a more dangerous and complete squad; the future of the Canucks will be even brighter if they can keep him on the team.

All stats from HockeyViz and Natural Stat Trick.