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What Flames Toffoli Deal Means for the Canucks

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Vancouver Canucks Tyler Toffoli
NHL forward Tyler Toffoli with the Vancouver Canucks in 2020.

It basically just means the Vancouver Canucks strongest NHL Pacific Division rival just got stronger. It also means Canucks fans might be irked again thinking about the financial reasons for letting Toffoli walk out of Vancouver in the summer of 2020. $4.25-million, the annual average value of the deal he signed that summer with the Montreal Canadiens, is not an obnoxious cap hit for what Toffoli does in general and is capable of in the postseason, IF you’re a playoff team. And there-in lies the rub.

When he left the Canucks they were a pretty darn good playoff team. A surprise one yes, but a team that had discovered bonus goaltending in Thatcher Demko and came within one game of the Western Conference Final. Annoying is the fact that Toffoli suffered a lower-body injury and missed much of the nice little playoff run for the Canucks in 2020. Can’t blame the guy for that.

The team cranked through the little qualifier against the Minnesota Wild, beat the St. Louis Blues, the series in which Toffoli was lost, and then took the Vegas Golden Knights to seven games. In the regular season leading up, Toffoli ‘the rental’, having come over from LA at the deadline, had ten points over ten games.

Now he joins a team that was looking for a little bit of extra scoring help. Flames General Manager Brad Treliving filled a spot the club was looking to fill and he paid a price for it. There are no guarantees of course, but Toffoli re-joins the coach he won a Stanley Cup with in 2014 in LA when he was a 22-year-old just two years out of the Ontario Hockey League. The 2nd-round pick (47th) in the 2010 NHL Draft was playing for then Kings Head Coach, now Flames Head Coach Darryl Sutter.

“He’s a winner, two-position player, 200 foot, scores goals, penalty killer, plays on the power play, he’s a good player,” Sutter said Monday. Pretty solid summation. A right-shot forward, Toffoli plays either wing. This past summer he had 14 points in 22 playoff games in helping the Canadiens reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Treliving gave up the Flames first-round pick in 2022 and a 5th-round pick in 2023 to the Canadiens, along with prospect Emil Heineman and well traveled forward Tyler Pitlick. The first-round pick is top-10 protected and slides to 2023 should Calgary end up with that high of a selection.

“With the pedigree that he has I think he’s going to be a great addition to our team, so, it’s a good day today,” Treliving said.

The Flames are making their run for a Stanley Cup. They’re in the here and now, they know the direction the team is headed.

The Canucks remain in the position they were in two years ago, trying to figure out what needs to be done. The most important thing that has changed is the hierarchy.

Meanwhile, Toffoli rejoins former Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, briefly his teammate, for a shot at the Stanley Cup. Right-shot defencemen, imagine that, Erik Gudbranson and Chris Tanev, are other prominent former Canucks playing for Calgary.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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