What should the Calgary Flames do with Tyler Toffoli?

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Munnich
1 year ago
Tyler Toffoli is coming off his best season in the NHL. The ten year veteran put up a career high in goals (34), assists (39), and points (73). He played the entire season on the Calgary Flames top line and top power play unit and was arguably their most important player in the 2022-23 season.
Toffoli has one year left on his contract and has a cap hit of $4.25 million..
The Flames have to make an important decision with Toffoli. Do they trade him? Do they sign him to an extension? Or do they delay their decision to the 2024 off-season?
Let’s dive into this.

Reasons to keep Toffoli

He is one of their better players right now
Like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Toffoli is coming off the best season of his career and was one of the top players on the Flames last season.
He led the team in goals and points. He was second in plus/minus with a +16 rating. The Flames outscored their opposition 58-37 at 5-on-5 with Toffoli on the ice. He was a beast last year.
And it wasn’t just the big numbers he put up. It was when he produced. He scored a lot of clutch goals last season. He scored four game winners, scored lots of power play goals on a team who struggled to create offence on the man advantage and scored in OT and the shootout.
Toffoli also became an important part of the team off the ice. He is respected and liked by his teammates and is one of the leaders in the Flames locker room. He is a great ambassador for the Flames organization which is important after what went down with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk last season.

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He helps keep the Flames competitive next season
It’s become clear that Don Maloney and the Flames don’t have much of a desire to change things up on the Flames roster. The organization feels like it is a good roster that under performed in the 2022-23 season.
The Flames are going to want to stay competitive and try to make the playoffs in 2023-24. So with that in mind, why would the Flames want to trade their top goal scorer and point-getter?
This is a Flames team that does not boast many natural goal scorers. It’s hard for the Flames to score goals based off what we saw last season. What is Toffoli’s greatest strength? His ability to score.
The Flames will need to keep that scoring touch on the roster if they have any desire of getting back in the dance next season.

What could a contract extension look like?

Here are some comparable contracts for Toffoli’s next deal.
Taylor Hall4 Years, $6 million AAV
Ondrej Palat5 Years, $6 million AAV
Rickard Rakell6 Years, $5 million AAV
Brian Rust6 Years, $5.125 million AAV
(Contract information courtesy of CapFriendly)
A Toffoli contract extension could look like any of these deals. Less term means more AAV (average annual value). And the more term the less they will have to pay on the AAV.
The Taylor Hall comparison is a good one. I think a Toffoli extension will be close to 4 years with an AAV of around $6 million.

Reasons to move on from Toffoli

His age and age of the Flames core
Toffoli will be 32 years old when he signs his next NHL contract. Committing lots of term and big dollars to a 32-year-old winger is a risky proposition. Especially when you consider that skating is the worst part of Toffoli’s game.
As an organization, you have to be 100% sure that this player is going to continue to produce at similar levels to what he is right now in his age 32-to-35-year-old seasons. That’s a tall ask, especially for someone coming off a monster career year.
The Jonathan Huberdeau, James Neal, and Troy Brouwer contracts should be a warning sign from the past not to sink around $6 million worth of cap space in an aging winger.
Plus the Flames core group of players is already old. I wrote about this a couple weeks ago.
Do you want the Flames adding a 32 year old Toffoli to a core group of players who are already in their 30’s?
His trade value will never be higher than it is right now
It would be smart from an asset management perspective to trade Toffoli. He is 31 years old and coming off a career year. He has one year left on his deal. All those facts point at moving Toffoli via trade this offseason or before the 2024 trade deadline.
Toffoli could be a nice addition to a team who is looking to add some veteran presence and goal scoring to their forward group.
The one issue is that wingers are the least valuable players on the trade market in the off-season. There are a lot of teams that need to shed cap space, and sometimes expensive wingers are cap casualties.
Just look at the Max Pacioretty and Oliver Bjorkstrand trades from last summer. Those are two high quality wingers who were traded for nothing in Pacioretty’s case, and a third and a fourth-round pick in Bjorkstrand’s case.
So maybe the best course of action is to look to move Toffoli at the 2024 trade deadline. But what if Toffoli gets hurt? What if Toffoli’s play drops off and his value decreases? What if the Flames are in a playoff spot come the deadline, will the team be willing to trade him in that scenario?
This is a complicated decision with a lot of factors at play.

What should the Flames do with Tyler Toffoli?

I think the Flames should look to trade Toffoli this summer if there are strong offers. If the market is not there in the offseason, wait until the trade deadline to move him. I would not sign this player to an extension because of his age, skating ability, and the fact he’s coming off a career year at an older age. We have seen this organization sign too many old wingers to long term contracts that don’t end up working.
It sucks saying that because Toffoli has been such a good Flame in his short time in Calgary. You can tell he is an awesome person and is respected by his teammates, the Flames organization and the fan base.
But sometimes you need to be ruthless in a salary cap world. There will have to be cap casualties if you want to stay competitive in the long term. Toffoli might have to be one of those salary cap casualties this summer.

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