Rumors Kings Reportedly Interested In Tyler Toffoli

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After spending the first eight seasons of his career in Los Angeles, Devils winger Tyler Toffoli could return to Southern California. The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta reports that the Kings have “expressed interest” in Toffoli if he’s made available by New Jersey GM Tom Fitzgerald in the days leading up to the deadline.

A pending UFA, Toffoli carries a cap hit of $4.25MM, and while extension discussions are ongoing, no deal has been reached. The Devils are still in a playoff chase, sitting five points behind the Lightning for the final playoff spot in the East with two games in hand.

That’s a perfectly bridgable gap, so even if the 31-year-old isn’t extended by March 8, they may keep him around if they feel the postseason is in reach or are confident in reaching an extension before the summer. Toffoli’s production isn’t replaceable internally – he holds the team lead in goals with 25 and has 42 points in 58 games, fourth on the team. While he’s technically listed as the Devils’ third-line left wing with Erik Haula and Dawson Mercer, he’s averaged 17:27 per game this year, fourth-most among Devils forwards.

It makes sense the Kings would have an interest in reuniting. He was a solid middle-six threat throughout most of his time in L.A., but he’s only entered his prime after a 2020 trade to the Canucks and subsequent stops in Montreal and Calgary. Last season’s career-high 34 goals with the Flames helped cement him as a true top-six and even first-line threat, posting above-average possession metrics. Add in his bargain cap hit, and he’s a logical fit to help the Kings shoulder apparent semi-long-term injuries to wingers Viktor Arvidsson and Adrian Kempe down the stretch.

Los Angeles would only be able to take Toffoli if the Devils retained half his salary, making him a $2.125MM player upon acquisition. That could change if evaluation this week reveals Kempe is expected to miss the rest of the regular season, allowing the Kings to move his $5.5MM cap hit to LTIR and add Toffoli’s entire salary for the stretch run.

Critics may point to Toffoli’s -11 rating this season, but advanced numbers assign much more blame to New Jersey’s poor goaltending than Toffoli’s defensive impacts. His 56.5 CF% at even strength is fifth on the team, he has a decent +4.9 expected rating, and his most common line with Jesper Bratt and Jack Hughes has controlled a remarkable 60.3% of expected goals, per MoneyPuck.

When talks of an extension in New Jersey began after his trade from Calgary last summer, it was clear Toffoli would prioritize trade protection and term. That’s because he’s played for five teams over the previous five seasons despite his strong play at each stop. He has no trade protection in his current four-year, $17MM deal signed with Montreal in 2020, and although the Kings won’t be able to afford to extend him, L.A. at least presents a familiar destination for Toffoli to ride out the 2023-24 campaign before testing the free agent waters for potentially the last time.

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