The 2023 Trade Deadline has already been one of the most exciting ones in recent memory with multiple star players being moved to contending teams. Patrick Kane went to the New York Rangers, Timo Meier was dealt to the New Jersey Devils, and Jakob Chychrun joined the Ottawa Senators, just to name a few of the elite players on the move. The New York Islanders have made a fair share of big moves as well, acquiring Bo Horvat to center the top line and adding Pierre Engvall to the middle of the forward unit.
Related: 2023 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker
The Islanders have made a few impactful moves but considering the movement in the rest of the Eastern Conference, they still need to make one final trade. The player they should target is Calgary Flames forward Tyler Toffoli, a veteran scorer who can put the Islanders over the top. The Flames are having a rocky season and the right deal involving Toffoli can both upgrade their roster this season and in the future.
Toffoli Elevates Top-Six
Toffoli is putting together a great season for the Flames, scoring 25 goals and 28 assists, making him one of their more valuable players. He’s 30 years old and at the end of his prime but has shown no signs of slowing down, making his pending free agency after the 2023-24 season an intriguing one for a lot of teams. He particularly is a great skater and creates scoring chances from the wing and his skill set allows him to consistently contribute to the offense and stay healthy, playing in 50 games or more in 10 of his 11 seasons.
Moreover, Toffoli is a playoff-proven player, something he’s shown throughout his 11-year career. He helped the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2013-14, scoring seven goals and seven assists in the playoff run. Likewise, when he played for the Montreal Canadiens, his five goals and nine assists helped carry them to the Stanley Cup Final where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games. In 88 career playoff games, Toffoli has scored 18 goals and 26 assists and has been a reliable part of Cup-caliber offenses.
He could be the missing piece for a team like the Islanders who are looking to compete in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers, Devils, and Carolina Hurricanes have all made significant upgrades to their rosters and are preparing for deep playoff runs. The Islanders have a great team and general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello made significant upgrades with the Horvat and Engvall additions. However, they need that star scorer that can put them over the top. Toffoli not only makes them a playoff team but a contender in the conference.
Toffoli Helps the Right Wing
The Islanders have a surplus of forwards that can play the center position or the left wing. Additionally, when Jean-Gabriel Pageau returns to the lineup, Engvall will likely move to the left wing, furthering the strength of both positions. Unfortunately, they lack a scoring presence on the right wing aside from Kyle Palmieri. While Simon Holmstrom and Hudson Fasching have both stepped up in their time in the NHL they have only combined for seven goals and aren’t a sustainable option for a team looking to win the Stanley Cup.
The Islanders need a skater that can take advantage of the open ice in the offensive zone created by Horvat, Brock Nelson, and Mathew Barzal – when he returns from injured reserve. Toffoli would be a great fit as a scorer on the wing, something the Islanders hoped Anthony Beauvillier would become before they traded him in the Horvat deal. Additionally, Toffoli is a reliable passer and can create scoring chances for his linemates, helping upgrade the offense across the board.
Flames Can Upgrade Defense in a Return
The Flames understandably would be hesitant to trade one of their best players, especially when they remain in playoff contention in the Western Conference. That said, they can make a move that keeps them competitive and upgrades their defense which has been a weak link this year, allowing 3.08 goals per game. Granted, some of their struggles can be attributed to injuries and Oliver Kylington, who was one of their best young players, missing the season. However, the bottom line is that the defense has taken a step back after being one of the best in the league last year and the Flames need a young skater that can remain an integral part of the unit.
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The Islanders’ prospect pool is one of the worst in the NHL but they have many great young defensemen in their system. Robin Salo and Samuel Bolduc have proven that they can take the next step and in the few games they’ve played with the team, have shown they can become reliable defensemen in the NHL. Unfortunately, there’s no space for them on the Islanders’ roster, especially with Sebastian Aho putting together a breakout season. Both Bolduc and Salo could boost the Flames’ defense and help it become a great one for years to come.
The Islanders would likely throw in another player and possibly a draft selection in a deal for Toffoli, making the trade work out for the two teams involved. Flames GM Brad Treliving showed in the 2022 offseason that he can and will retool the roster on the fly if needed and when the best offer is on the table, he’ll take advantage of it. A move involving one of his veteran players can do just that and ultimately leave the Flames better off following the trade deadline.