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The New Jersey Devils Should Trade Tyler Toffoli

Trade chatter has picked up in recent days and with the recent Chris Tanev trade, the action should begin to pick up. One team to keep an eye out for in particular is the New Jersey Devils. They helped facilitate the trade between the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames by retaining salary and have been involved in trade talks all season.

The most recent rumour surrounds forward Tyler Toffoli. Darren Dreger recently discussed the future of the Devils’ leading goal scorer. He reported that the team prefers to extend the 31-year-old but could explore the trade interest he is generating if they fall further out of the playoff picture. Even more recently, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period suggested a reunion between Toffoli and the Los Angeles Kings. With the Trade Deadline quickly approaching and the Devils playoff hopes dwindling, they should explore a deal for the pending UFA.

The New Jersey Devils Should Trade Tyler Toffoli

It’s quickly getting late for the Devils. They’ve yet to find any footing or consistency this season. Coming off of a record-breaking season in 2022-23, the days of being deadline sellers looked over. However, through injuries, goaltending, and all-around poor play, they find themselves in the position to offload at the deadline. And this is the right decision. The Devils have a handful of pending UFAs that could help contending teams. Colin Miller, Brendan Smith, and Tomas Nosek are all useful depth pieces that can contribute. What they also have is a valuable, 30-goal scorer in Tyler Toffoli who can bring back a significant return.

Toffoli currently leads the Devils in goals (25 as of 3/1/24) and fourth in points (42). He has been a great contributor since coming over in the summer. However, his pending free agency and sluggish skating feed into reasons why the Devils are best off trading him. Toffoli has a $4.25 million cap hit but the Devils can retain up to 50% of that with Dougie Hamilton’s contract on LTIR. With their ability to retain salary, the appetite for teams to trade for a 30-goal scorer should be high.

Toffoli and Los Angeles Reunion

As mentioned before, a Toffoli and LA Kings reunion makes sense. They started off the season on fire but have been clinging onto a Wild Card spot for the past few weeks. They have played a majority of the season with top-six forward Viktor Arvidsson out with injury. Los Angeles has been in dire need of more scoring, as well as another veteran voice. If the Kings were to acquire Toffoli, he would immediately become their leading goal scorer, behind Trevor Moore. Furthermore, between Arvidsson, Carl Grundstrom, and Pheonix Copley all on LTIR, the Kings have a little over $2.5 million in available cap space. With the Devils ability to retain cap that no longer is a roadblock in trade discussions.

What Could the Devils Get in Return

As for the Devils, the return would have to be something of substance. If they are looking at a possible extension, any offer would have to net them either a high draft pick or a young player. The Kings have all of their first-round picks available to trade, which should be what the Devils ask for. Thirty goal scorers at less than $2.5 million typically net first-round picks at a minimum. For the Devils, this would arm them with two firsts in the 2024 NHL Draft, and give them the option to restock their prospect cupboard or flip the pick for immediate help.

The other route the Devils can go is to ask for a prospect or young roster player. Two names that make sense are Alex Turcotte and Arthur Kaliyev. The first and second-round selections for the Kings back in 2019 have had varying degrees of success, but are prime candidates to break out on a new team. Turcotte, a former fifth overall pick, has played in just 22 NHL games but has produced well in the AHL. He is a fast, play-driving centre who would have a chance to play a third-line role on the Devils after the suspension of Michael McLeod.

Kaliyev, the 33rd pick in 2019, has had more success at the NHL level. He has 70 points in 181 NHL games, including 34 goals. Kaliyev is well-known for his heavy shot and was a prolific goal scorer at every level before the NHL. The knock on his game is his poor skating stride and his lacklustre defensive game. He is not too dissimilar to that of Tyler Toffoli; elite shot but has poor foot speed. The upside is there, but if Toffoli wasn’t much of a fit with the Devils, then the odds are Kaliyev wouldn’t be either.

Will It Happen?

As it stands it’s up in the air if Toffoli will get moved. The situation is fluid and likely all rests on where the Devils are in the standings come the Trade Deadline. If they continue at the pace they’re at, then they should become sellers. In that case, then a Toffoli trade makes sense for the long-term outlook of the team. However, if the Devils pick up the pace and are in the thick of the playoff race, GM Tom Fitzgerald may opt to hold on to his pending UFAs and make a push. In our opinion though, trading Toffoli and recouping high-value assets would be wise for the long-term health of the team.

Main Photo Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports


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