The Carolina Hurricanes have been linked to a few forwards in the rumor mill. Speculation has recently picked up around the Los Angeles Kings’ Tyler Toffoli. Would he be a good fit in Raleigh?
It’s no secret that the Carolina Hurricanes have a plethora of defensemen. It’s also no secret that they could use some help in their top-9. It only seems natural that GM Don Waddell is talking about potential deals that would see a blueliner shipped out for another forward.
Toffoli, 27, has been struggling mightily with the Kings since last season. After posting a 24 goal, 47 point campaign in 2017-18, the Scarborough, Ontario native has only managed 16 goals and 41 points in 96 games since. Toffoli was a healthy extra earlier this season, rubbing salt in the wound. With the final season of his current contract underway, the rumors have intensified.
All that said, why should the Hurricanes be interested?
For starters, Toffoli has a career shooting percentage of 10.1%. That fell off the map last season, a year that saw that number plummet to 5.8. This season has seen improvement, with Toffoli sitting at 9.1% through 14 games. Were the Hurricanes to acquire him, he would slot in nicely alongside Ryan Dzingel and Erik Haula, who will hopefully return to the lineup sooner than later.
While not a huge player, Toffoli isn’t afraid of playing a physical game and getting to the dirty areas. He has also shown himself to be defensively responsible, a must in coach Rod Brind’Amour‘s system. He’s not elite offensively, nor is he likely to match his 31 goal output from 2015-16, but he should be capable of putting up 20 goals and 40-45 points.
He’s not the piece to put Carolina over the top but he is the type of player that can be a very strong addition to a team that is expected to make another deep playoff run. That begs the question of who the Hurricanes would send to Los Angeles.
The Kings have yielded the second-highest number of goals this season, currently sitting at an average of four goals against per game. Goaltending has been atrocious for them early on and the prospect of adding a defensively sound blueliner could be appealing. That leaves two primary targets on the Hurricanes: Trevor van Riemsdyk and Haydn Fleury.
Van Riemsdyk, 28, is the more established of the two, now in his sixth NHL season. He typically plays a smart, defense-first game and his addition could easily benefit the Kings. No, he won’t fix all of their woes, but he could certainly help. With close to $6.4 million in available cap space, salary won’t be a huge hurdle for the Kings and van Riemsdyk’s $2.3 million salary shouldn’t dissuade them.
The biggest issue that I see with this proposition is if Los Angeles GM Rob Blake is concerned with the possibility of lingering issues from van Riemsdyk’s offseason shoulder surgery. Cap space is, however, a concern for the Hurricanes. Even with van Riemsdyk’s remaining salary ($1.86 million) moved, Carolina would need to shed additional payroll to accommodate Toffoli’s remaining hit ($3.7 million).
Then there’s Fleury. The 23-year-old defender, like Toffoli and van Riemsdyk, is in the final year of his current deal. Despite this, the Kings would likely have greater interest given that Fleury is both younger and more affordable, the very reasons the Hurricanes have for holding onto him.
His lower salary would also ensure that Carolina would have to move out another contract while taking on no additional salary, aside from Toffoli.
The most sensible addition to this deal would be Brock McGinn and his remaining $1.7 million dollars, though that would barely fit Toffoli under Carolina’s cap. I’m also unsure how fond Blake would be of acquiring McGinn.
I love Brock’s game, but I don’t know that he fits Blake’s vision, despite the fact that his game is well suited for the Western Conference. At 25, he could be a part of the King’s rebuild but he would not represent a cornerstone player.
In the end, I’m open to acquiring Toffoli, though I realize that he’s not the missing piece. To top that off, it would take some juggling to fit him under the cap at his early point in the season. Personally, I would rather keep Fleury over van Riemsdyk, although I have no problem with either of them.
Another concern is that Los Angeles, in need of a rebuild, will want to net a higher-end prospect, though Toffoli isn’t the piece to get them that return. It also means that Blake will be much more hesitant to trade away early round picks as they’ll likely be pretty high.
So, while this is an interesting idea, I’m not sure it will come to fruition, primarily due to cap issues and the potentially high number of moving parts.
Then again, maybe Waddell could convince Blake to eat a portion of Toffoli’s salary. Another possibility is swapping draft picks as part of a package. The Hurricanes currently hold several picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 draft, something that Blake would undoubtedly leverage in any deal
How do you feel about the prospect of the Carolina Hurricanes acquiring Tyler Toffoli? Would you be willing to give up some combination of van Riemsdyk/Fleury/McGinn to make it work?