Tyler Toffoli has given the Calgary Flames exactly what they needed
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Mike Gould1 year ago
By making a trade on Valentine’s Day 2022 to acquire @Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens, the Calgary Flames became one of the National Hockey League’s deepest teams.
The Flames were already a formidable opponent prior to the transaction. With its resurgent top line dominating on a regular basis and Darryl Sutter’s system clearly working, Calgary looked like a team that could make some noise down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Still, the Flames had some holes to patch. Neither @Brett Ritchie nor @Tyler Pitlick proved that they were capable of handling a top-nine role on a competitive team. As it was configured before the All-Star break, the Flames’ bottom-six forward group simply didn’t score many goals.
Enter Toffoli, who has five goals and seven points in his first seven games wearing the Flaming C. Adding him into the equation has turned the Flames from a potentially tough out into a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
When was the last time the Flames boasted this much depth on the right side? With @Matthew Tkachuk, @Blake Coleman, and Toffoli occupying the ailier droit spots on the top three lines, the Flames have as much versatility and high-end skill at that position as any team in the National Hockey League.
With all due respect to @Sean Monahan, Toffoli has also represented a huge upgrade on the Flames’ top power-play unit. The 29-year-old winger already has three power-play points since arriving in Calgary and has helped his new team operate at a 35 percent conversion rate with the extra man during his seven games.
Toffoli gives the Flames the massive luxury of having two second-line right-wingers who can elevate their respective units in different ways.
In their current configuration, the Flames have Coleman playing with @Mikael Backlund and @Andrew Mangiapane. Coleman is a terrific two-way forward who has helped that line become a terrible pain to play against.
If, for whatever reason, that line begins to falter, the Flames now have another perfectly capable winger they can shift up the lineup to try and provide some additional offence in that spot. A Mangiapane–Backlund–Toffoli line has the pure skill to be able to put together some excellent results.
Another benefit of having both Coleman and Toffoli in the lineup is the Flames now have somebody who can help elevate the Monahan line. Once a terrific scorer, Monahan has become gradually less effective over the years (likely due to injuries) and needs to play with strong wingers to succeed.
Toffoli and Monahan have been a solid (if unspectacular) duo in exactly 69 minutes of five-on-five ice-time together over the last seven games. With those two players on the ice, the Flames have played their opponents to a 3–3 tie while controlling 49.0% of the expected goals (according to Natural Stat Trick).
The Flames could still potentially use one more top-nine option to round out their group. A line with Toffoli, Monahan, and current Seattle Kraken forward @Calle Jarnkrok could do some serious damage.
As they currently stand, the Flames have won 12 of their last 13 games and possess one of the deepest forward ensembles in the Western Conference. They’re playing like they can outscore any team in the National Hockey League.
Toffoli’s former team from Montreal is in town to take on the Flames on Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. MT.
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