The temperatures in Calgary are starting to cool down, but Flames coach Darryl Sutter is already bringing the heat.
The Calgary bench boss took questions on Thursday at the Flames’ media day. It was one of the first opportunities for Sutter to speak to the media since the Flames’ blockbuster trade with the Panthers this summer, sending Matthew Tkachuk to Florida for a package that included Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar.
One of the questions asked was about the skillset difference between Tkachuk and Tyler Toffoli, who is one of the candidates to fill the top-line wing role that Tkachuk left vacant when he decided not to re-sign with the team and was traded. However, Sutter elected to answer the question in a bit of a different way.
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“One guy has won Stanley Cups,” Sutter said. “Been a big part of long playoff runs.”
It’s safe to say his answer had nothing to do with either player’s skills but rather looking at their resumes as a whole. And he’s not wrong — Toffoli won the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2014 and was a key part of the team’s success during that postseason run with 14 points in 26 games. Ironically enough, Sutter was the coach of Los Angeles at the time.
However, Toffoli is also 30 years old and has played in the league for 10 years. Tkachuk is only 24 but already has six seasons under his belt in the NHL. It’s not a fair comparison, especially considering how well Tkachuk has performed despite the Flames’ lack of playoff victories during his time in Calgary.
If we are actually looking at the two’s skill sets, they bring different elements to the table. Tkachuk is a bit of a unicorn in today’s NHL. He has great hands, shown on display with the multiple between-the-legs goals he has scored. However, he is also a big body and physical presence who loves to throw hits and drop the gloves to fight. Tkachuk is a bonafide top-line winger who has shown he can put up insane offensive numbers (104 points last season).
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On the other hand, Toffoli has never been a true top-end forward talent. He’s been more of a really good complementary piece to play on the second or third line. He has shown he can be a goal-scorer with four seasons with at least 20 goals and even one 30-goal season, but Toffoli also is sound defensively.
Nevertheless, it adds another interesting wrinkle to the whole situation between the Flames and Tkachuk. The former Flame will make his return to Calgary early in the season when the Panthers come to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
Matthew Tkachuk vs. Tyler Toffoli careers
Looking at the numbers, it’s clear who the better player is. While Toffoli has four more seasons in the NHL than Tkachuk, the newest Panther already has more career assists than him in over 200 fewer games and is close to passing Toffoli in both career goals and points.
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Of course, rings are all that matter, and Toffoli has the upper hand in that category. He has made the postseason seven times in his career, including two trips to the Stanley Cup Final with one Cup win. Tkachuk’s postseason resume includes three first-round exits and a second-round loss.
|Career games played||431||651|
|Career point-per-game average||0.886||0.603|
|Career playoff games||27||88|
|Career playoff points||15||44|
Matthew Tkachuk trade details
- Flames get: F Jonathan Huberdeau, D MacKenzie Weegar, F Cole Schwindt, 2025 conditional 1st-round pick
- Panthers get: F Matthew Tkachuk, 2025 conditional 4th-round pick
Once Tkachuk told the Flames that he would not be signing a long-term extension with the team, Calgary traded the restricted free agent, along with a conditional fourth-round pick in 2025, to the Panthers in exchange for Huberdeau, Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and a conditional first-rounder in 2025.
Tkachuk immediately signed an eight-year, $76 million contract with Florida, locking him up as part of their core group. Calgary signed Huberdeau to a similar eight-year, $84 million extension, as he was set to be a free agent next year. Weegar also has just one season left on his deal, however, an extension has yet to be worked out.