NEWARK, N.J. – While Chris Kreider’s name has predominantly been the one mentioned most as far as a potential trade-deadline pickup by the Colorado Avalanche, a name I’m starting to hear a lot: Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings, in fact, had a pro scout at Saturday’s Avs game here at the Prudential Center against the New Jersey Devils, and I’m hearing it was/is no accident. While it’s the usual game of “no comment” from hockey people, I have heard from a good source that the Avs and Kings may be trade partners at some point before the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline.
Toffoli is the kind of forward the Avs, I think, believe they could use a little more of for a playoff push/run: someone with size, grit and some playoff experience – and not over the hill, and who won’t cost a fortune to acquire.
Toffoli, 27, is a right winger on the last year of a contract and can be an unrestricted free agent this summer. It is believed that the rebuilding Kings are likely to deal him by the deadline. He’s got 23 points this season for the Kings, in 41 games, and is a three-time 20-plus goal scorer – with a high of 31 in 2015-16. He was a key depth player for the Kings’ 2014 Stanley Cup-winning team and has 47 games of career playoff experience.
Toffoli is making $4.6 million this season for the Kings, who currently rank 14th in the Western Conference with 38 points.
Does this mean the Avs are “out” on Chris Kreider? Not necessarily. But one thing that remains uncertain is whether the Rangers really have him on the open market or not. There is still quite a bit of time before Feb. 24, and a big playoff push by the Rangers – or the Kings – could change the dynamics of either player’s availability.
If you want my pure take on this, I would say that, yeah, the Avs need a bit more size up front. I don’t think they are a small and/or soft team, but I worry a bit about size and grit, especially for the playoffs. What would it cost to get him? I’m thinking it might take the Avs’ first-round pick. The Avs do not currently have a pick in the second round of the 2020 draft (it was dealt to Washington in the Andre Burakovsky trade), so they can’t try and talk any teams into taking a second-round instead of a first.
Do I love giving up first-round picks for rental players? Not really, but this might be a late-round pick and the Avs do have some good prospects still in junior or the minors, so this could be a year where giving up a first-rounder for a real good deadline player might not be such a bad idea.