The Calgary Flames are very quickly (and very quietly, it seems) starting to emerge as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender in the Western Conference.
They have one of the best top lines in hockey, a stout defense, excellent goaltending, and a two-time Stanley Cup champion head coach behind their bench in Darryl Sutter. The one thing they they have been missing: A little bit of scoring depth behind their top duo of Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau.
In exchange for Toffoli the Flames are sending first-and fifth-round draft picks in 2022 to the Canadiens, along with prospect Emil Heineman and Tyler Pitlick. The first-round pick is top-10 protected.
There is a lot to like about this deal for the Flames. Not only do they get a really good two-way player that can strengthen their forward depth, he also has two years of term remaining on his contract at a salary cap hit of $4.25 million per season. His numbers are down a little bit this season from a year ago, but he is still on pace for around 20 goals while still being a strong possession driver on what has been a bad team. That contract term also might come in handy as some additional insurance in case the Flames are unable to re-sign Gaudreau after this season. Toffoli also has a history with Sutter, winning the Stanley Cup with him in Los Angeles during the 2013-14 season.
It also did not cost them a ton in terms of assets.
Pitlick is basically a throw-in to make the salary cap work for both sides (no retained salary) while the fifth-round draft pick is not until 2024. The first-round pick is top-10 protected this season. If that pick is in the top-10 (not likely given the Flames’ place in the standings), the Canadiens will instead get a 2023 first rounder and an additional fourth-round pick as part of the trade.
That leaves the prospect.
Heineman was a second-round pick by the Florida Panthers in 2020 and is having a strong season in Sweden, but it is worth pointing out that he has already been traded twice before he has even signed his first NHL contract. The Panthers traded him to Calgary a year ago as part of the Sam Bennett trade.
It is the first major roster transaction of the Jeff Gorton/Kent Hughes front office and definitely signals more major changes ahead. They did get four pieces back in return, but the ceiling for them is probably low.
Toffoli played a significant role for the Canadiens a year ago in helping them reach the Stanley Cup Final, but this season has quickly fallen apart for the team after several offseason departures and major injuries. Montreal has already overhauled its front office (GM Marc Bergevin out; Gorton and Hughes in) and replaced Dominique Ducharme with Martin St. Louis. Expect more changes to the roster in the coming weeks.