Devils Get Busy, Acquire Tyler Toffoli and Extend Timo Meier

The New Jersey Devils’ offseason has been very busy, especially for general manager Tom Fitzgerald.

While they have traded away defensemen Damon Severson and Reilly Walsh, goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, and, most recently, forward Yegor Sharangovich, they managed to haul in forwards Tyler Toffoli and Shane Bowers, and signed trade deadline acquisition Timo Meier to an eight-year, $70.4 million extension.

Toffoli was the main centerpiece of their most recent trade, as they sent Sharangovich and pick no. 80 to the Calgary Flames. The move comes after the two-time Stanley Cup champion made it clear that, even though he wanted to stay in Calgary, he requested a trade after contract negotiations were not initiated.

They also got a long-term deal done with Meier, who was a seamless fit with the Devils. Fitzgerald wanted his guys to take the next step to Stanley Cup contention, and, after getting an eight-year extension done previously with forward Jesper Bratt, they have now got their top six forwards solidified.

Devils Boost Top Six Forward Group

The Flames had a highly disappointing season, missing the playoffs by two points after revamping their core when they hauled in forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri, and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar. In acquiring Toffoli, the Devils get the Flames’ leading scorer and a player who crossed the 20-goal mark seven times in his career, including this past season, where he had 34 goals and 73 points, both career-highs.

The rebuild is over, and the focus has now shifted from building for the future to assembling a team that can compete for a Stanley Cup. With Toffoli they intend on going for a deep playoff run, and Toffoli has been to three Stanley Cup Finals, winning twice with the Los Angeles Kings and making it again with the Montreal Canadiens. He also has three times the career playoff points as Tomas Tatar, and this addition for New Jersey is a significant upgrade.

This is the perfect fit to fill the roster. With this team coming out of their rebuild to not only make the playoffs but make it to the second round with this young core, Fitzgerald is clearly going on win-now mode.

Toffoli Gives the Devils a Veteran Presence

Whether Toffoli be a long-term stay or a one-year rental with the Devils, he can help mentor the team full of young, up-and-coming stars. He has 10 years of NHL experience, and has done everything at hockey’s most competitive level, including two Stanley Cups.

Don’t expect him to repeat his career totals from his best season in Calgary, but even if he puts up a 50- or 60-point season, it is still a huge win for the Devils, especially since he is at the final year of a four-year contract he signed with the Canadiens in the summer of 2020 at a $4.25 million cap hit.

Also, since they have a deep prospect pool, them trading away Sharangovich and a third round pick is a huge victory. And if things go wrong with Toffoli, he can be moved at the deadline to recoup the lost assets. Don’t expect that happening, however.

Meier is a Perfect Fit for the Devils on the Long-Term

Meier arrived to the Devils at the trade deadline last season and had 14 points in 21 games down the stretch. While his postseason was disappointing, with four points in 11 games, all coming in the second round, there are times in which a player has a bit of a difficult time adjusting to a new team, and the Devils are optimistic he bounces back from that playoff performance and gets back to the player he was before the trade.

He gives the Devils versatility, as he can play on either side of the wing. He should have no problem fitting in the top six, whether he be playing with Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier. No matter who it is, his offensive totals should bounce right back as he gets used to Lindy Ruff’s system.

The contract wasn’t coming cheap, either. His last contract had him earn a salary of $10 million, which meant that he was due a $10 million qualifying offer, giving him the leverage in the extension talks, to go with 75 goals in the last two seasons.

But given that he is 26 years old, an eight-year extension doesn’t give the team that much risk. He will be 34 when the deal expires, so he will see a decline before the term’s end, but this contract may end up being a bargain considering the salary cap will only go up from here for the NHL.

Meier Looking to Build Off Strong 2022-23 Season

Meier has a mix of size and skill, and that mix should complement this forward core, especially after getting a top nine winger in Toffoli. He should not have a problem with fitting in at the top six.

He is an excellent goal-scorer, and he will be a huge part of the team’s power play, with a strong net-front presence, along with his ability to create plays with ease because of his offensive IQ. He can also kill off penalties, as he has been improving on his two-way game.

The most impressive part of the re-signings of Bratt and Meier, along with acquiring Toffoli, is that the Devils still have $10.2 million of cap space to work with, and Fitzgerald is in a great position to make the team better.

Bad Asset Management by Flames General Manager Craig Conroy

While other teams and players took advantage of career years, the Flames did not. They gave up three draft picks, including a first round pick (which became Filip Mesar), prospect Emil Heineman, and bottom six forward Tyler Pitlick to get Toffoli after his 20-goal, 49-point season. Then they moved him just a year later after a 34-goal, 73-point season for a third line player (Sharangovich) and a third round pick.

Sharangovich is still a young player and can have room to develop, as he showcases the potential for a 50-point season, having posted a career-best 46 points in 2021-22, and can slot into the Flames’ middle six without an issue. He is an RFA, and he could be signed to a multi-year contract that will fit him with Calgary on the long-term, but the Flames are not doing themselves any favors when they traded a first line right winger for a third line winger coming off a subpar season.

The fact that Toffoli wanted to stay in Calgary but wanted out after no extension talks materialized is a huge mistake in not retaining their leading scorer. It seemed like general manager Craig Conroy and the front office were prioritizing the other guys, and the fact that they are heading towards a rebuild does not excuse them for this small return.

Written by Alec Nava

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