Tyler Toffoli’s magical debut in Calgary felt like destiny fulfilled
Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
By Mike Gould1 year ago
Brad Treliving has finally done it.
In his eighth season overseeing the Calgary Flames, Treliving pulled the trigger on Valentine’s Day to add scoring winger @Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens.
The move was Treliving’s first significant mid-season splash during his tenure as general manager in Calgary. It reunited Toffoli with a host of familiar faces, including former Los Angeles Kings compatriots @Milan Lucic, @Trevor Lewis, @Brad Richardson, and Darryl Sutter.
Toffoli made his Flames debut on Tuesday, occupying the right flank on a line centred by fellow Ottawa 67’s alumnus @Sean Monahan.
“It’s obviously exciting,” Monahan told reporters after the trade was announced on Monday. “When you add a player like Toff to our team, it gives you confidence and now the work’s ahead of us.”
“He goes to the right areas and knows how to score,” Monahan added. “He scores a lot, scores big goals. Great player.”
Monahan looked like a player reborn in his 11:21 on the ice with Toffoli in Tuesday’s 6–2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. With the Monahan line on the ice, the Flames created six high-danger scoring opportunities and generated 55.97 percent of the expected goals at five-on-five (according to Natural Stat Trick).
In the end, however, it was the ever-reliable @Johnny Gaudreau who made an incredible pass to set up Toffoli’s first marker in a Flames jersey.
What a rush.
For years, the Flames have been linked to countless “big names” on the trade market. Despite reportedly being in on the likes of @Jack Eichel, @Taylor Hall, and @Mark Stone, the Treliving-led Flames had never managed to make a big mid-season move to address a certain deficiency with the team.
With last year’s shocking coaching change still very much ingrained in the collective consciousness of Flames fans, this year always felt different. Darryl Sutter’s Flames have ranked among the National Hockey League’s strongest teams by most metrics for much of the 2021–22 season. @Johnny Gaudreau has looked like a Hart Trophy candidate. @Jacob Markstrom is having one of the finest seasons by a goaltender in the history of the franchise.
Only one tiny thing badly needed to change. The Flames’ scoring depth — particularly on the right wing — paled in comparison to that of other contending teams.
While Calgary’s second line (of @Andrew Mangiapane, @Mikael Backlund, and @Blake Coleman) had been improving, the Flames rightfully still sought out an upgrade for their tertiary unit.
Toffoli always made the most sense. Even before his flight landed at YYC, Toffoli had more intel on the personnel populating this current Flames team than even the great Pat Steinberg. He’s on a sweetheart contract — just $4.25 million until 2024 — and didn’t cost a whole lot to acquire.
In many ways, Toffoli feels like he could be one of the final pieces of this ever-changing Flames puzzle. With Gaudreau, Mangiapane, @Matthew Tkachuk, and @Oliver Kylington all in need of new deals after this season, this might be the year for the Flames to try and win it all.
Adding Toffoli gives the Flames three threatening forward lines. His presence creates a top-nine up front that can hang with any other forward group in the NHL.
With a solid defensive corps and Markstrom in goal, the Flames are also one of the NHL’s stingiest teams. They’ve allowed just 110 goals through 46 games this season, putting them on pace to concede just 196 over a full 82.
The last time the Flames gave up fewer than 200 goals in a season, they made it to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final — with Darryl Sutter behind the bench.
The Flames’ plus-48 goal differential now ranks as the league’s fourth-best, behind only Colorado, Florida, and Carolina. All three of those teams are contenders with a capital “C.”
After acquiring Toffoli, the Flames are contenders with a flaming “C.”
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