The Montreal Canadiens have traded forward Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2022 first-round pick, a 2024 fifth-round pick, forward Tyler Pitlick and 2020 second-round pick Emil Heineman. The first-round pick is top-10 protected. Should it fall inside the top-10, the Flames will instead send their 2023 first-round pick to the Canadiens along with an additional fourth-round pick.
For the Canadiens, this deal is a clear indication that the priority of the team has shifted from winning in the present to winning in the future. With changes aplenty in Montreal, including a new vice president of hockey operations in Jeff Gorton, a new general manager in Kent Hughes and a new interim head coach in Martin St. Louis, this trade is likely to be the first of many as the Canadiens look to build their future piece by piece.
Getting a first-round pick as well as a possible fourth and a guaranteed fifth-round pick is good value on the surface for Toffoli who has still produced offensively with the Canadiens this season despite seeing a fairly stark drop-off as far as goal-scoring is concerned. The Canadiens were able to leverage Toffoli’s very team-friendly contract into even more, however, as they also received Heineman in this deal along with the expiring contract of Pitlick.
As Pierre LeBrun would mention, the Canadiens really wanted Heineman in this deal.
It makes sense given the fact that a long-winded rebuild likely isn’t something the Canadiens are too interested in. Quick rebuilds have become a little more common in sports in recent years and with Heineman always feeling a few years ahead of his age group as far as hockey-IQ is concerned, it’s possible he could transition into the NHL game quicker than most prospects.
Combining this with his already filled-out NHL frame and solid shot make him an appealing piece for the Canadiens. He’s also fresh off a goal-of-the-week performance in the SHL with Leksand as well.
The Flames acquired Heineman in the Sam Bennett trade last season and though they likely would have wanted to keep him and see what they had in him, the value of adding a player like Toffoli to their roster on the contract he’s signed to was simply too good to pass up.
In Pitlick, the Canadiens are acquiring a veteran center who has recorded just two assists in 25 games this season. While he was likely included in the deal as a way to fit Toffoli under the cap in Calgary, the Canadiens will get the chance to see if he fits what they’re looking to build in the near-future.
Flames Adding Toffoli Bolsters Wing Depth
While the Canadiens sit at the bottom of the NHL standings with just eight wins and 23 points in 48 games, the Flames are among the NHL’s better teams. They sit just one point out of first place in the Pacific Division behind the Vegas Golden Knights with 26 wins and 58 points on the year.
The Flames already have one of the NHL’s best goal-differentials this season with a plus-44 on the year, giving them the fourth-best mark in the league. Adding Toffoli, who has nine goals and 26 points in 37 games this season, should help them bolster their wing depth and continue to excel in a very tight playoff race in the Western Conference.
Toffoli has proven capable of scoring goals at a very high rate in the NHL and is coming off of a 28-goal season just one year ago with the Canadiens. If he can continue to produce points and find his scoring touch again with Calgary, the Flames could find themselves in a very good spot by the time everything is said and done. The veteran forward has scored 182 goals and 370 points in 614 games split between the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks and the Canadiens.
As mentioned, this also isn’t a short-term deal on the Flames part either as Toffoli is signed for two more seasons after this year at a very team-friendly $4.25 million cap hit. The deal doesn’t come with any sort of trade protection either which just adds to the value of the contract.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for seven years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.