Tyler Toffoli proved to be a nice fit with the Vancouver Canucks after arriving via trade with the Los Angeles Kings. The pending UFA is hoping to stay.
Ahead of the 2020 trade deadline, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning knew that his playoff hopeful club could use another quality top-six forward and veteran presence.
Many fans and pundits criticized the trade, believing that Benning gave up way too much for a likely rental. But Toffoli was a superb fit in Vancouver’s top-six, posting six goals and four assists in 10 regular season outings.
With Brock Boeser sidelined, the Canucks desperately needed its other forwards to step up, and Toffoli did just that. The 28-year-old was also one of Vancouver’s most impactful players in the seven playoff games he suited up for, recording two goals and a pair of assists.
Benning and company would obviously love to re-sign the pending UFA — a four-time 20-goal scorer who’s also one of the few Stanley Cup champions on this roster (2014 with the Kings).
Of course, the cap-strapped Canucks also have to make tough decisions with No. 1 goalie Jacob Markstrom and veteran defenceman Chris Tanev, who are also pending UFAs. Jake Virtanen, Adam Gaudette and Troy Stecher are pending RFAs.
Benning stands to lose at least three of these players via trade or free agency, and possibly more.
While speaking with the media on Friday (via Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre), Toffoli expressed a desire to re-sign with the Canucks:
“I want to talk to Jim and see where he’s at and where the team is at because that’s priority No. 1 as of right now. I want to say that I haven’t really thought about (free agency) a whole lot, but it’s definitely at the time in my life where you have to. You definitely want the security for yourself and for your family and all those things…
I want to stay in Vancouver, and that’s my No. 1 priority as of right now. If things progress – and not in the right direction – then that’s when I have to think about going to a different place…
They have some kids in this organization and some guys that really stepped up and showed they’re ready to take the next step. It’s definitely an exciting time to be in Vancouver, and it’s definitely something that people want to be a part of now.”
Consistent 20-goal and 40 to 50-point forwards of Toffoli’s caliber tend to cost around $5 to $6 million annually. The track record speaks for itself, so he certainly won’t come cheap,.
Toffoli doesn’t carry much of a risk at only 28 years of age with consistent production. If the Canucks were to prioritize him over their other free agents, one has to be optimistic about them reaching a new deal.
But the Canucks also have to think long-term here. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes need new deals after next season. The contracts of Alexander Edler and Tanner Pearson also expire, and if one or both walk, Benning will need to find suitable replacements.
The Canucks are unquestionably a better team with Toffoli, but whether or not Benning prioritizes and values him over the other key UFAs and RFAs is anyone’s guess. We’re just going to have to see how it all plays out.