Could the NY Islanders trade for Tyler Toffoli and at what cost?

Calgary Flames v New York Islanders
Calgary Flames v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The Calgary Flames are in a rough situation. Four key players will be free agents after this upcoming season, and three have reportedly said they will not re-sign in Calgary when their contracts expire, with a fourth "leaning towards" not staying. The Flames don't have to trade them, of course, but they might decide it's better to get something for them instead of letting them leave for free, as they did with the Matthew Tkachuk/Jonathan Huberdeau trade.

Could the Islanders find a way to acquire one of them? How much would it cost?

First, who are we talking about? The three players reportedly not planning to re-sign are Mikael Backlund, Noah Hanifin, and Tyler Toffoli, with Elias Lindholm also leaning towards leaving, according to Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli.

I'll look into all of these players as the offseason develops, but for today, I'm focusing on Toffoli.

Let's start with why Toffoli is expected to generate a lot of interest.

Why Tyler Toffoli is an attractive trade target?

Toffoli's appeal for the Islanders is easy to see.

A scoring winger, with 34 goals and 39 assists for 73 points last year, who plays the left wing - fans should be jumping out of their seats at the possibility of a Toffoli-Horvat-Barzal line. His advanced stats are equally good: while Toffoli was on the ice, the Flames scored 61% of the goals and 57.7% of the expected goals while also taking 59% of the shots. The expected goal and shot percentages, by the way, would have led the Islanders this year per Evolving Hockey. , while the actual goal percentage would be third, behind just Mat Barzal and Brock Nelson.

A player that good must be really expensive, right? No. Surprisingly, Toffoli's contract carries a cap hit of just $4.25 million next year, and he's only owed $3.5m in actual salary.

It's safe to say that an elite first-line left wing (exactly what the Islanders need), who would instantly become either the best or second-best scorer on the team, and whose cap hit is quite low, would not be easy to acquire. The Islanders' prospect pool is bare, to put it mildly, and they don't have a 1st round draft pick this year.

To be blunt, if the Flames want prospects and picks, the Islanders aren't a good fit. The Flames acquired Toffoli a year and a half ago for a package including: Tyler Pitlick, Emil Heineman (prospect/signing rights), 2022 1st RD pick (used to select Filip Mesar) and a 2023 5th RD pick (#144)

The 2022 1st rounder wound up being 26th overall, Heineman was a former 2nd round pick, and Pitlick was a frequent healthy scratch/fourth line grinder, so to simplify, I'll say that Toffoli cost roughly the equivalent of a 1st and 2nd round pick. Unfortunately - or, fortunately for Calgary, but unfortunately for any team trying to trade for him - Toffoli had the best season of his career after the trade, with his 34 goals and 73 points in 2023 both being career highs. In other words, the price right now will be higher than it was at the 2022 trade deadline.

What could that price be for the Isles? Let's throw out some ideas.

What could the Islanders offer for Tyler Toffoli?

The Islanders could possibly find a way to make an offer, if they moved their 2024 1st rounder, plus a 2023 2nd, plus some prospects - probably Matthew Maggio and Calle Odelius. I don't think that gets them anywhere close to Toffoli, although it's worth a shot. But there might be another way.

I don't think the Flames actually want to rebuild. They missed the playoffs this year, but won the Pacific Division the year before, then made a disappointing second-round playoff exit. They still have several important players - Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, Blake Coleman, Andrew Mangiapane, MacKenzie Weegar, and Jakob Markstrom, among others - signed past next year, and they might decide to retool, moving Toffoli and the others for other NHLers and trying to compete with their new coach and GM. So here's my proposal:

Proposed Trade

The Islanders trade Kyle Palmieri, Samuel Bolduc, a 2023 2nd, and a 2024 1st for Toffoli plus Nikita Zadorov. Here the Flames get a replacement for Toffoli and Bolduc, who looked NHL-ready this year and just signed a two-year one-way contract at $800,000 per season. Calgary also gets a 1st and 2nd round pick, which they could use to upgrade their other potentially departing players (Backlund, Lindholm, and Hanifin) via trade.

But it also makes sense for the Islanders. We've already covered how Toffoli on the first line would be fantastic to see, and the loss of Palmieri doesn't hurt so much since Oliver Wahlstrom will be returning from injury and can hopefully slot into Palmieri's spot. Zadorov, included basically to make the cap work from Calgary's perspective, would also be a great pickup.

He's a left defenseman who scored 14 goals and 7 assists for 21 points last year. That doesn't sound like much, but he generates a lot of offense - while Zadorov was on the ice, the Flames scored 54% of actual and expected goals while taking 59% of the shots. He led the Flames' defense in shooting percentage (his 10.8% shooting would have led Islanders defensemen as well). And, somewhat surprisingly, he kills penalties as well. It'd be a shame to lose Bolduc, but with five other defensemen under contract (Pelech, Pulock, Romanov, Dobson, and Aho), he's not necessary, and getting Zadorov means the Islanders don't need to worry about Scott Mayfield.

Of course, this is a lot to give up for a rental, but there's no reason to assume Toffoli and Zadorov wouldn't be interested in re-signing on Long Island. After all, Bo Horvat was acquired with only a year left on his contract, and he almost immediately signed a longterm extension.

Is this a fair trade? Let me know what you think on Twitter @BrianWeinberge7.