Flames Acquire Toffoli From Canadiens
In the first major deal before the March 21 trade deadline, the Calgary Flames acquired forward Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2022 first-round pick (top-10 protected), a 2024 fifth-round pick, prospect Emil Heineman and veteran forward Tyler Pitlick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames receive a versatile two-way forward in Toffoli. He played for Calgary head coach Darryl Sutter during their days with the Los Angeles Kings so it shouldn’t take him long to reacquaint himself with Sutter’s system. The Flames were seeking secondary scoring as they push to secure a playoff berth and he should fit the bill. Toffoli’s not a rental so he’ll benefit their offense beyond this season.
Toffoli’s $4.25 million leaves the Flames with $54.45 million in projected cap space for 2022-23 invested in 12 players. It’ll be interesting to see what effect his acquisition will have upon their efforts to re-sign restricted free agent Matthew Tkachuk and unrestricted free agent winger Johnny Gaudreau, who will both seek significant raises after this season.
I confess being surprised by this move as I felt the Canadiens might prefer retaining Toffoli given his affordable contract. Most pundits expected defenseman Ben Chiarot to be the first Hab dealt before the trade deadline.
This move likely signals the start of a rebuild by Canadiens VP of Hockey Ops Jeff Gorton and general manager Kent Hughes. They now have two picks in the first round of this year’s draft, with their own potentially being first-overall if they win the draft lottery. Shedding Toffoli’s contract gives them $79.8 million invested in 10 players next season, though they’ll get $7.857 million in cap relief if necessary with Shea Weber on permanent long-term injury reserve.
Elite Prospects indicates Heineman, 20, is a 2020 second-round selection by the Florida Panthers who was dealt to the Flames last year in the Sam Bennett trade. He’s a speedy 6’1”, 185-pound two-way forward who can skate on either win. He has 11 goals and 16 points in 36 games this season with the Swedish Hockey League’s Leksands IF.
Pitlick, 30, is a veteran checking-line forward and the cousin of Canadiens forward Rem Pitlick. He’s a UFA next summer and will likely be a short-term pickup for the Habs.