Top players from Monday in the NHL
Matt Boldy, Wild
Reading between the lines, it seemed like the Wild weren’t necessarily eager for Matt Boldy to become an NHL regular. It’s unclear if the Wild perceived some flaws in Boldy (at this point), the Wild wanted to manage their salary cap situation, or what. But a set of circumstances — injuries, COVID — forced the Wild’s hand with Boldy, and the 20-year-old’s basically been brilliant from his first appearance.
Heading into the NHL action on Monday, Boldy already had 10 points in 12 games. Just 13 games into his career, Matt Boldy generated his first hat trick, and added an assist for four points vs. the Red Wings. Boldy’s now up to 14 points in 13 contests.
Here’s footage of that Matt Boldy hat trick:
Is it too late for Boldy to wade into the Calder Trophy race? Logically, you’d think the answer is yes, but Boldy’s off to such a bold start to his Wild career, it’s dangerous to totally dismiss a real push.
Monday NHL highlights
Much like Sunday, there were merely four games in the NHL on Monday. With that in mind, why not soak in the sights and sounds from all of those games?
Boldy collected that hat trick (plus assist) as the Wild outlasted the Red Wings:
Tough to feel great about the Jets’ playoff chances when they lose to the Blackhawks in regulation.
Mitch Marner‘s still red-hot, collecting three points as the Maple Leafs handled the Kraken:
Sharks fans booed Evander Kane during his return to San Jose, but the Oilers won, with Stuart Skinner earning Edmonton’s first shutout of this season.
Monday NHL Takeaways
Flames land Tyler Toffoli in trade with Canadiens
In case you missed it, the Calgary Flames acquired Tyler Toffoli in a trade with the Canadiens that featured a (top-10-protected) first-rounder going back to Montreal.
Along with that first-rounder, the Canadiens acquired Tyler Pitlick, prospect Emil Heineman, and a fifth-round pick. Frankly, it’s tough to imagine the Flames’ first-rounder needing to be top-10-protected, but better safe than sorry.
Calgary gets more than a rental in Toffoli trade; Flames’ salary cap questions loom
As Adam Gretz mentioned for PHT, the Flames gained some nice flexibility by trading for Toffoli. Unlike when the Canucks traded for Toffoli, this isn’t a mere rental. Toffoli carries a team-friendly $4.25M cap hit through 2023-24. Personally, his contract brings to mind the bargain the Flames enjoy with Elias Lindholm. While Lindholm is slightly younger (27) and marginally more expensive ($4.85M), both are strong players whose contracts expire after the 2023-24 campaign.
Following the Toffoli trade, the Flames are tight to the salary cap for the rest of this season.
"Fun" Fact: the #Flames will have a daily cap hit that's over the $81.5 million limit from here on out. They're able to do that because they banked a bunch of cap space earlier this season.
— Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) February 14, 2022
Truly, the most interesting Flames salary cap questions still revolve around the expiring contracts of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. Most directly, the Toffoli trade eats up some of the available cap space for the Flames to re-sign Gaudreau and/or Tkachuk. Yet, I’d counter that there’s some piece of mind in having two more seasons of Toffoli + Lindholm for a hair over $9M combined.
With savings at that level, maybe you can more easily justify breaking the bank for Gaudreau and/or Tkachuk?
Following that path may also require other moves, like bribing another team (perhaps the Canadiens?) to take on a contract or two.
Overall, the Toffoli trade makes the Flames more versatile on the ice, and (I’d argue) in handling the salary cap.
[Maybe Flames will climb in the PHT Power Rankings next week?]
Flames GM Brad Treliving mentioned that he’s been “chasing” Toffoli since Treliving was with the then-Phoenix Coyotes. Treliving explained a valid additional point to landing Toffoli in a trade: another team can’t get the useful, affordable winger.
Also, the 29-year-old is likely as Darryl Sutter-approved as you’re going to get, both from his time with the Kings, and also Toffoli’s two-way style. Speaking of Toffoli’s time with the Kings, I can’t say I realized that the trade will reunite him with his big buddy, Milan Lucic?
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) February 14, 2022
The Canadiens’ side of the Toffoli trade
For Canadiens fans who quickly formed fond memories of Tyler Toffoli, this trade may ring a bit hollow. Again, that Flames first-rounder is unlikely to translate to a particularly strong first-rounder for the Habs. It’s unclear if any other parts of that Toffoli trade will help the Canadiens all that much, either.
Considering how good Toffoli is, and how absurd his contract is, the return on the trade is pretty underwhelming. Great move for Calgary. It does signal HuGo’s intentions for the rebuild, you don’t trade Toffoli if this isn’t a deep rebuild.
— Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) February 14, 2022
Big picture, though, it makes a lot of sense for the Canadiens to grab another first-rounder. Especially with a potentially crucial first-rounder tied up in the wildly ill-advised Christian Dvorak trade.
Remember, landing a first-rounder in a trade doesn’t guarantee you’ll make that pick.
It could also give the Canadiens a useful trade weapon. Maybe that first-rounder could help the Canadiens shimmy out of a bad contract. Perhaps they could use it to acquire a player who could be a part of the rebuild.
Or, maybe they use their revamped staff to draft a prospect who should’ve been drafted earlier. Ideally, the Canadiens can trade players in ways that feel more “win-win” than moving Toffoli.
Perhaps an offseason Toffoli trade might have netted a better return, but who knows? Either way, the Canadiens kind of had to do it. And they also have a lot more work to do.
Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston has more on Emil Heineman, the prospect who was part of the Toffoli trade.
Givani and Gemel Smith play together for the first time — at any level
In a very cool moment, Givani and Gemel Smith played together for the first time (not just at the NHL level, but any level). The Smith brothers suited up for the Red Wings with Sam Gagner and Michael Rasmussen. Givani Smith, 23, logged 9:53 of ice time, while Gemel, 27, received 9:01.
Givani and Gemel Smith play together on the same team, on the same line, for the first time. #LGRW pic.twitter.com/20sDA7pzAk
— everett (@borntodanhard) February 15, 2022
Both Smith brothers fired a shot on goal apiece, and they were both on the ice for a goal allowed.
Before the game, Jeff Blashill noted that he never got the chance to play with his brother, so he was happy for Givani and Gemel Smith to get that opportunity.
Brothers Givani & Gemel Smith will play together for the first time ever.
“we're in the winning business and we're trying to put the best lines…but I'm also human. I have a brother and I never got to play with him and I think would have been really cool to do that.” – Blashill pic.twitter.com/QaGlYrDLjp
— Jessi Pierce (@jessi_pierce) February 14, 2022
Jack Eichel Golden Knights debut planned for Wednesday
With Mark Stone (and his $9.5M cap hit) headed to LTIR, the Golden Knights can make room for Jack Eichel. So, there you have it: Eichel is expected to make his Golden Knights debut on Wednesday.
One of the most interesting debates about Eichel joining the Golden Knights won’t be solved anytime soon. That debate was: do you load up with Eichel, Stone, and Max Pacioretty? Or do you have Eichel run his “own line,” keep Chandler Stephenson on an already-great line with Stone and Pacioretty, and make opponents pick their poison?
With Stone out, that scenario is incomplete. It’s also undeniable that, just because Eichel may make his Golden Knights debut, it doesn’t mean we’re seeing him at his full powers.
For the sake of entertainment, it would be wonderful if Eichel hit the ground running for the Golden Knights, though. Especially since you couldn’t pick a more fun opponent for the Golden Knights in that Eichel debut: the juggernaut Colorado Avalanche.
Tuesday’s big story
Plenty of playoff implications in Kings vs. Oilers
Should the Kings view their most likely path to a playoff spot as landing the Pacific’s third spot (where they currently sit) or a wild-card berth? The outcome of Tuesday’s Oilers – Kings game may nudge Los Angeles more clearly in one direction or another.
After all, the Oilers aren’t that far behind the Kings in points (53 for Edmonton, 55 for L.A.), and they’ve played 46 games vs. the 47 the Kings played. If the Oilers win — especially in regulation — things suddenly look that much more interesting.
This key Oilers game is the meat in the sandwich of two challenging road trips for the Kings. Looking back, the Kings can feel pretty nice about getting a point in all six games of their last road trip (4-0-2), although the quality of competition wasn’t outstanding. Following Tuesday’s game against the Oilers, the Kings set out again, playing four straight away contests.
They also play eight of their next 10 on the road, so this may qualify as the royal pain portion of the Kings’ schedule.
In short, this one’s pretty important for both the Oilers and the Kings.
NHL scores from Monday
Maple Leafs 6, Kraken 2
Blackhawks 3, Jets 1
Wild 7, Red Wings 4
Oilers 3, Sharks 0
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.