By Joe Chrzanowski | Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19
The season is more than a third over and the infamous “United States Thanksgiving” measuring stick has passed with Boston securely in a playoff spot. Despite the B’s great start, there is always room for improvement.
With that sentiment in mind, this is the first in a series of articles that will look at some possible trade targets for the Bruins as they “gear up” for what is (hopefully) another long playoff run. I just did an article about the logjam the Bruins have on defense, so while you can never say never, I am going to assume Boston will be looking at bolstering their forward depth. The most obvious need appears to be a 2nd line RW, but if the B’s found a 3rd-line center they really like, that would allow them to move the right-shot Coyle to the RW2 spot if they wanted.
#NHLBruins Director of Player Development & Player Personnel Coodinator Jamie Langenbrunner scouting LAKvsANA in Anaheim tonight. Wonder if BOS and LAK (Tyler Toffoli?) are closing in on a deal. Kings may be looking for 2nd round pick as part of any trade. https://t.co/oRcq8lk7Pj
— Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon) December 3, 2019
The first target I want to examine is LA Kings right-wing, Tyler Toffoli. He has been linked to the Bruins for a while now, going back to last season’s trade deadline, before they opted for Marcus Johansson instead. His name has popped up again this week in connection with Boston. It’s easy to see why, as he is a right-shot RW, playing for a franchise that’s currently last in the West, and who will certainly be a “seller” before too long.
Toffoli was a 2nd-round pick (47th overall) in the 2010 Prospect Draft. The same draft where the B’s took Tyler Seguin 2nd overall. It’s a bit ironic in that they could have had Toffoli in the 2nd round twice, instead of selecting Jared Knight (32nd) and Ryan Spooner (45th), neither of whom are still in the NHL.
Toffoli played for the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL and put up 37-42-79 totals in 65 games in his draft year. The six-foot, 200-pound Scarborough native proved those totals were no fluke. He followed that up with seasons of 108 and 100 pts before making the jump to the King’s AHL affiliate, Manchester Monarchs, in 2012-13. After getting a 10 game NHL cameo that season, Toffoli established himself for the good the following year with a very respectable 12g/17a in 62 games with the Kings. He then chipped in 7g/7a in the playoffs, helping LA win their second Cup in three years.
The following season he would score 23 goals for LA and be producing like a legitimate Top 6 forward. In 2015-16 he really broke out, scoring 31 times at the ripe old age of 23. Unfortunately, over the next three seasons, Toffoli’s numbers would reflect the fortunes of an LA team that was slipping from its perch at the top of the NHL standings. He recorded 34, 47, and 34 points during those years. Not bad totals, but not what you would expect from a former 30 goal-scorer.
Despite the down years, Toffoli still remains an attractive trade target for a number of teams, including Boston. This is true for several reasons, not the least of which is that he has become a reliable three-zone player as he has matured. We all know that even if you are an elite scorer if you want to play for the Bruins, a strong 200-foot effort will be required by the coaching staff. That will not be an issue with Toffoli, who also has some other things going for him, besides his two-way game.
Even though the Kings are “rebuilding”, Toffoli has maintained above average advanced statistics this year. His Corsi, Fenwick, Shot, and Scoring Chance percentages at even strength are all in the mid-upper ’50s, despite grinding for a last-place club. On a stronger team like Boston, one would assume that he would at least continue to be good in those areas, and potentially improve.
While his 6-7-13 numbers in 30 games are not going to blow you away, 10 of his 13 points have come at even strength, and he would be tied for 7th on scoring for forwards in Boston. These numbers are more representative of a 3rd line player than a legitimate second-line player, but there are a couple of things to consider. First, the Kings are not a very good hockey club. Second, we heard the same thing about Johansson last year, who was also coming from a bad team and was one of the better playoff performers for the Bruins.
Toffoli is in the last year of a four-year deal worth $4.6m per season, and it is unclear at this point whether the Bruins would consider him a pure rental or try to re-sign him. Some fans have expressed some concern about continually trading for rentals, as opposed to players with the term (like Coyle last year). While I understand the concern, a player in the last year of his deal will demand a lower return. With the Bruins cloudy cap situation and the free agents they have, Boston may want a player they don’t have to worry about fitting under the cap for next season.
If you are looking for negatives in regards to Toffoli, there are a couple. Since his 31-58-69 numbers in the 2015-16 season, his totals have declined. He bounced back in 2017-18 but then regressed again last season. Some of that can be attributed to the team he is playing for, but it is definitely a red flag. The other “issue” is that Toffoli is not overly physical. He’s not small, and he doesn’t avoid the “dirty” areas, but he also doesn’t play an overly gritty game. In a little over six NHL seasons, he has less than 400 hits, which works out to roughly 60 hits a season. If a “heavy” style of play is your cup of tea, Toffoli is not going to be your guy.
While he has some warts (most players do), I believe Toffoli would be a good fit in Boston, even if he’s not the 30 goal scorer he once was. With LA being at the bottom of the standings and him being in the last year of his contract, it would seem that he would be available and not overly expensive. Personally, if the Bruins are interested, I would like to see them make a move around the first of the year and not wait until the trade deadline. It might cost a bit more, but in my opinion, it would be worth it to allow the players extra time to develop some chemistry.
That wraps up our look at Tyler Toffoli, Part two of the series will take a look at another right-wing, Columbus Blue Jacket, Josh Anderson.