Tyler Toffoli is an NHL veteran playing in his eighth season. He has spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Kings, but this could be his last campaign with the organization.
He was selected by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He was a steal in the 47th slot, outperforming expectations. After all, this was a young man who was the third-best player on his minor hockey league team; he was ranked by some scouts behind John McFarland and Devante Smith-Pelly.
Toffoli steadily improved each year, culminating in a career-best 31-goal, 58-point season in 2015-16. He has also scored over 20 goals, three times. Last season, there was a clear dropoff when he was a negative player for the first time in his career. He went minus-16 with 13 goals and 21 assists.
His advanced stats were still adequate. Last season he had a fairly good relative Corsi percentage of 5.49%. This means that he had a positive impact compared to teammates based on the number of shots attempted when on the ice.
Toffoli still offers teams a significant on-ice value. He can be a serviceable player on nearly any team’s roster. In the right situation, just as he does in Los Angeles, he can fit nicely on a second line. With his production down, teams might be able to acquire him from the Kings for less than he’s worth. This makes dealing for his services more enticing for teams.
With the expectation that the Kings will not re-sign him, he will likely be made available ahead of the trade deadline, assuming he’s not already on the trading block.
The Edmonton Oilers might be the perfect destination for Toffoli. They have exceeded expectations thus far this season and have been riding the strong play from their star players.
It would benefit the team to add more depth to the lineup. Currently, the Oilers are tenth in the league in goals for. After Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and to a lesser extent James Neal, there is a significant dropoff in who can put the puck in the net for Edmonton.
By adding him, the Oilers would have a more potent top-six forward group. The move would bump their current second-line right-winger Alex Chiasson down to the third and allow Toffoli to play alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Neal.
This move would not just be good for the Oilers, but for Toffoli as well. Nugent-Hopkins’ unselfish style of play should help reinvigorate him and allow him to tap back into his scoring touch. Overall, this trade would mean increased offensive production in Edmonton.
When it comes to adding depth, the Carolina Hurricanes are one of the teams in need. They are currently in a wild card position, which means that they are fighting for their playoffs lives.
The Hurricanes already have an above-average blue line and a solid starting goaltender. Where they need to concentrate their efforts to upgrade the roster is with their forwards. Toffoli could fit in nicely here.
As long as the Hurricanes don’t need to pay a significant price to acquire him, he could be an ideal fit with this team. He would be an upgrade to multiple wingers on the team. He is arguably a better scorer than wingers Warren Foegele, Martin Necas, and Brian Gibbons.
Some small tinkering may be enough for this group to not just solidify their place in the postseason, but set themselves up for a long run. Adding a player considered to be a “natural scorer”, might even have coach Rod Brind’Amour reconsider his powerplay setup. With a 22.4% success rate when up a man, the Hurricanes could use a jolt on special teams.
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Like the Hurricanes, the Montreal Canadiens are in an awkward position in the standings. Currently, they find themselves hanging onto a wildcard spot by a thread. They are in danger of finishing in the worst possible spot, outside of the playoff picture and selecting in the middle of the first round of the next NHL Entry Draft.
The Canadiens have been better than some expected this season. According to the team’s general manager, Marc Bergevin, what they lack is consistency. He recently held a press conference at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard to address his team’s play. Bergevin explained, “We have to keep working on our consistency, from game to game, from period to period, and even from shift to shift.”
Bringing in a 27-year-old veteran could help fulfill that expectation. Toffoli could be on the third line in Montreal, playing with two very skilled players in Nick Suzuki and Tomas Tatar. The move would not just help add cohesion, but also another voice in the dressing room to help mentor the younger players.
According to Roster Resource, the Habs have the youngest forward group in the league. Their average age is 26.1 years old. Injecting a steady player with as much experience as Toffoli onto the roster can help their forward group grow both on and off the ice. Learning to deal with the rigors of being a pro, especially in a market as fanatic as Montreal, can be difficult. If he can produce at the rink and act as a mentor to his teammates, he would be a great fit on the island in Quebec.
A former scout and referee turned writer, covering the game of hockey wherever it’s played.