Two former North Division rivals have kicked off trade season in the NHL.
The Montreal Canadiens have traded talented scoring winger Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames. In return Montreal will take back a protected first-round pick, a fifth-round selection, prospect Emil Heinemann and forward Tyler Pitlick.
Montreal will not retain any salary as part of the deal, instead taking back Pitlick's salary to make the dollars work.
It's an aggressive move from Calgary, which sits one point back in the Pacific Division race with three games in hand on the front-running Vegas Golden Knights. It's a reward for an impressive season under Darryl Sutter, who took the reins last season when the club languished in the All-Canadian division, missing the postseason by four points.
It's also a calculated move from Flames GM Brad Treliving. Toffoli is a known quantity and quite familiar to certain members of the organization, having won Stanley Cups in Los Angeles with Sutter. He also happened to include veteran Flame Milan Lucic in his wedding party.
He should slot seamlessly into Calgary's middle six. Sutter can either put him on the second line with Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane, or perhaps have him provide a scoring dynamic to a third line that hasn't quite achieved the same success as other areas of the lineup.
Toffoli is just a one-time 30-goal scorer in his career, but is coming off a seventh-place finish in the Rocket Richard race last season in Montreal. He was one of 15 players to score 50 goals across the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. In 37 games this season, Toffoli has just nine goals and 26 points.
Reports suggest the Flames could also be in on pending unrestricted free agent defenceman Ben Chiarot, who is expected to be dealt from Montreal ahead of the deadline. Treliving is known to get a head start on deadline activity.
For Montreal, the first-round selection in return for Toffoli was a must as it heads into a rebuild, while Heinemann was a coveted prospect in the negotiations, according to reports.
A key return asset in the Sam Bennett trade last season, Heinemann is a left-handed shooting winger chosen in the second round by the Florida Panthers in 2020. He has 11 goals in 36 games in Sweden's top division this season.
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