New GM Kent Hughes promised that the recent coaching change wasn’t going to be the only notable change made and that proved true on Monday as the Habs traded winger Tyler Toffoli to Calgary. In return, the Canadiens receive first and fifth-round picks, prospect Emil Heineman, and winger Tyler Pitlick.
Montreal signed Toffoli in free agency in 2020 and he certainly made a significant impact right away. Last season, he led the team in scoring with 28 goals and 44 points in 52 games, giving them a legitimate top-line winger. This season, he has been similarly productive with 26 points in 37 contests, making him one of the top scorers on a team that has struggled to score this season.
Toffoli has two years remaining on his contract after this one with a $4.25 million cap hit and Montreal is not retaining any portion of it. That affordable price tag certainly allowed Montreal to command a sizable return for the 29-year-old which they’ve done here although the bulk of the deal is obviously about winning down the road.
Heineman was a second-round pick of Florida back in 2020 (44th overall) but was moved to Calgary last season as part of the Sam Bennett trade. He has spent the bulk of the past two years with Leksands of the SHL and has 16 points in 36 games this season. Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic noted that the 20-year-old is someone that the Canadiens were particularly focused on getting in this trade.
However, it’s worth noting that he’s on a long-term deal in Sweden (signed through 2024-25) so Montreal may have to wait for a little while to get him to North America. He must sign his entry-level deal by June 1, 2024 so there’s still plenty of time for that to happen.
As for Pitlick, Rem’s cousin, he’s in the final season of a contract that carries a $1.75 million cap hit and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. His presence in this deal is more for cap and contract management purposes than anything else. He has just two assists in 25 games with Calgary this season but has been a serviceable fourth liner for the past several years; the Flames flipped a fourth-round pick to get him from Seattle after the expansion draft.
The first-round pick heading to Montreal is a 2022 selection but is top-ten protected this season. If Calgary’s pick lands in the top ten, then the Canadiens would receive their unprotected first-rounder in 2023 along with a 2023 fourth-rounder. The fifth-round pick that the Habs are receiving is in 2023.
With another five weeks until the trade deadline, chances are that Hughes and Montreal’s new management team will have some other deals in the works so Toffoli’s departure likely won’t be the only one of note between now and then.