The bleakest season in Montreal Canadiens history has gotten even worse, as the team officially kicked off their rebuild. They have sent winger Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames for a protected 2022 first-round pick, a fifth-round pick in 2023, plus forwards Tyler Pitlick and Emil Heineman.
Be sure to check out all of our other NHL content.
Impact for the Calgary
To start on Calgary’s side of things, they acquired a very good middle-six scoring winger with obvious ties to new Flames coach Darryl Sutter. Of course, Toffoli was on Sutter’s Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings in 2014. The most attractive part of this deal is the term on Toffoli’s contract. He has two more years left after 2021-2022 at a very manageable $4.25 million. The 29-year-old sniper scored 28 goals in 52 games last season, his first for the Canadiens.
He has not been as good for the Habs this year, but he looks so much better when put into comparison with his teammates. Toffoli’s nine goals in 37 games are tied for the team lead. His 26 points are second on the club, two behind Nick Suzuki in 11 fewer games. Going to a much better Flames team will help his production.
The actual return for Toffoli is not bad at all, although people will complain since he was the team’s best trade chip given his years left. They still got a first-round pick back for a free agent signing less than two years into his tenure. He helped the team go all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before the monstrosity that has been this season. The protection on the pick could anger some people, but the first-place Flames are not going to have a top-10 pick. They also received some value in players.
The Returning Players
Pitlick has bounced around the league a ton in recent seasons. Given the one year remaining on his contract, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he changes teams again. He could even be flipped in about a month. He is a satisfactory fourth-line checking winger who has two assists in 25 games this season. Pitlick has not had a lot of ice time under Sutter but did play a decent amount on much worse teams in the past. His 10.8 percent career shooting rate is not terrible. Also, this represents a family gathering for Pitlick. His cousin Rhett Pitlick was drafted in the fifth round by Montreal in 2019, and his other cousin Rem Pitlick was claimed off waivers from Minnesota earlier this season.
Even Heineman is an asset with some value. The Flames acquired him from Florida in exchange for Sam Bennett last season in a deal that looked like a slam dunk at the time but has backfired. Drafted 43rd overall by the Panthers in 2020, Heineman has 11 goals in 36 games in the SHL this year. He has gotten hot as of late, with six goals and three assists in his past 10 games. Given his potential as a recent second-round pick, Heineman is the second-biggest piece going back to Montreal.
The overall idea for the Canadiens here is that it is hard to see Toffoli reach a level with more value than he currently has. He is nearly on the wrong side of 30, coming off of a season with an abnormally high 17.7 percent shooting percentage. That is not to say that he is not good; Toffoli will be a massive addition to the Flames. But with where the Canadiens are at right now, this seems like the best value that they could get, and it isn’t half-bad.
Follow Carter LaCorte on Twitter @CarterHudBlog
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images