With the Taylor Hall sweepstakes done and dusted on Sunday evening, the Montreal Canadiens were in need of a Plan B for adding more scoring depth. They were also limited by their cap situation after inking Josh Anderson and Joel Edmundson to sizable deals in the past few weeks. What happened was a bit of great negotiation from Marc Bergevin as he landed free agent Tyler Toffoli on a four-year deal worth $4.25 million a season.
Despite not getting the biggest fish in Hall, Bergevin landed himself a fine consolation prize in Toffoli, and did so without needing to shift any prominent members of his team in a trade. With his contract on the books, the Canadiens are just slightly over the cap ceiling right now, and will need to be compliant by the start of the season, which can be easily managed. While not ideal, moving a player like Jordan Weal or Brett Kulak clears more than enough without forcing the team to move a major roster player instead (there’s obviously a downside to trading away Kulak but that’s another story in itself).
Before delving into Toffoli’s advanced metrics it’s worth taking a look at his standard counting numbers by season. Since joining the NHL in a full-time role, he has seasons with 23 goals, 31, 24 twice, and then a season of 16, plus one with 13 goals. He had a strong showing on a poor Los Angeles Kings team this season, and after being traded to Vancouver posted 10 points in 10 games, with four points in seven playoff games for the Canucks.
In short, Toffoli brings a fairly consistent level of production, easily slotting in anywhere in the Canadiens’ top nine. The team now has multiple 20-goal wingers playing up and down the lineup.
There’s more to Toffoli than his goal totals show. In his career with the Kings, he was consistently playing top-six minutes, and not just doing well, but thriving in terms of attacking.
While there are a couple of Stanley Cup-calibre teams in those heatmaps, there’s also a handful of lottery clubs as well, and even then Toffoli did nothing but produce scoring chances. He has a net positive impact defensively across his career, with one outlying season in 2017-18.
The team has added another shot-generating machine, providing another wrinkle to the offence that was lacking at points last year. The Montreal attack might not be as polished as others around the league, but it’s going to be very good at getting the puck toward the net, and sooner or later it’s going to crack even the stingiest goaltender.
A big part of Toffoli’s arrival is that the lineup has far more flexibility across its top three lines, and it even allows the fourth line to have some offensive bite. Down the right side alone are three players capable of scoring 25 goals in Brendan Gallagher, Anderson and Toffoli, with any of them slotting into any of the three spots if necessary.
It’s not the elite scorer many have wanted, but the Canadiens now have a forward group capable of inflicting death by a thousand cuts. Claude Julien is now able to toss any of his lines out and reasonably expect some offensive pushback as well as solid defensive coverage. There aren’t many teams in the Eastern Conference that can easily match up to that kind of depth all game.
Perhaps the best part of Bergevin’s work on the Toffoli deal is that he came in well below what some projections had listed, including Evolving Hockey’s projection that had him signing his next deal at about $5.6 million per year on a four-year deal. Toffoli was half the cost of Hall, with some term and security to boot.
A move like this, coupled with the re-signing of Jeff Petry, along with Anderson’s long-term deal is also a clear signal from Bergevin to his veterans that he’s planning for this team to be a contender right now. Gallagher mentioned that he was hoping to see some deals get done before signing his extension, and this should be the exact thing he was looking for.
Across the board it’s hard to find any sort of issue with the Tyler Toffoli signing, the price is great, easily movable if it comes to that, and the term fits right into the Canadiens’ plans. Toffoli himself brings a new dimension to the offensive attack, providing a nice change of pace from the smashmouth style of Anderson and Gallagher around the net. He also adds much needed, proven scoring depth that gives Montreal three dangerous attacking lines, with a far more stable fourth line behind them.
They missed out on Taylor Hall, but the Canadiens still managed to grab a big-name free agent and improve the roster greatly, without breaking the bank. All in all, Marc Bergevin’s off-season work has been outstanding, and this contract is no exception.
Vikings trade Yannick Ngakoue to Ravens for multiple picks
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens for draft picks on Thursday, less than two months after acquiring the fifth-year pass rusher in a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ngakoue is tied for fourth in the NFL with five sacks in six games, including two forced fumbles, but the Vikings entered their bye week with a 1-5 record and thus more incentive to focus on the future than stay competitive in 2020.
“This was an opportunity that I felt would accomplish both the short and long term as we move forward, but these decisions aren’t easy to make,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said.
With Everson Griffen gone via free agency and Danielle Hunter injured since the beginning of training camp with a potentially season-ending neck injury, the Vikings on Aug. 31 sent a second-round draft pick in 2021 and a conditional fifth-round selection in 2022 for Ngakoue. He wanted to leave the Jaguars after accumulating 37 1/2 sacks in four years and called his arrival in Minnesota “a breath of fresh air.”
The Vikings have Ifeadi Odenigbo in place at defensive end, and fourth-round draft pick D.J. Wonnum will now be in line to start at the other spot.
“What you envision sometimes unfortunately doesn’t always come true,” Spielman said.
Minutes after Spielman’s previously scheduled video news conference with reporters, NFL Network reported Hunter has decided to have surgery. The Vikings were initially hoping he’d be able to return with rest and rehabilitation, and Spielman said acquiring Ngakoue was not related to Hunter’s injury. Since then, outside linebacker Anthony Barr was also lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered on Sept. 20.
“You try to readjust with some of the top playmakers you don’t have, especially on the defensive side. That’s what the coaches are doing right now,” Spielman said.
With the trade deadline approaching on Nov. 3, the Vikings could try to trade some other high-priced veterans, with perhaps safety Anthony Harris, left tackle Riley Reiff or tight end Kyle Rudolph enticing another team to part with a draft pick or two. Spielman steadfastly refused to commit to a full-on rebuild.
“Our goal every week is to go out there and win football games. You have to balance out both. I still think we have a very talented team,” Spielman said.
The Vikings didn’t disclose specifics of the acquired draft selections. ESPN reported the Ravens will send a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick.
Both teams are on their bye week.
The Ravens (5-1) could use Ngakoue to enhance a pass rush that has been productive of late but could use the help. Despite getting seven sacks against Cincinnati two weeks ago, five of those came from defensive backs. Defensive end Calais Campbell was acquired via trade, also from Jacksonville, during the last off-season. He had three of Baltimore’s six sacks last week in a 30-28 win at Philadelphia, but Ngakoue ought to minimize the need to send extra rushers and allow the Ravens to generate more pressure from their front four, just as the Vikings were intending.
“A quarterback can’t throw the ball if he’s on his back. So, if you can’t get there with four, you send five. If you can’t get there with five, send six. That’s the way it goes,” pass defenceco-ordinator Chris Hewitt said.
The Ravens are fourth in the league in sacks per pass attempt.
“We are excited to add Yannick Ngakoue to our football team,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. “Yannick is someone who we are very familiar with going back to the draft process years ago. He is an exciting player and a dangerous pass rusher who makes us better. Yannick grew up here. He’s the type of person we welcome in our building. Finally, we are not finished building this team, as we continue to chase our ultimate goals.”
Source: – Sportsnet.ca
Report: Ravens acquire DE Ngakoue – TSN
Yannick Ngakoue is on the move again.
The Minnesota Vikings have traded the defensive end to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2022.
Vikings and Ravens finalizing a trade to send DE Yannick Ngakoue to Baltimore for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick, sources tell ESPN.
Vikings initially sent 2021 second-round pick and 2022 conditional fifth-round pick to Jags. Now get most back.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 22, 2020
Through six games this season, Ngakoue has recorded 12 tackles, 5.0 sacks and two forced fumbles.
In his fifth year out of Maryland, Ngakoue was acquired by the Vikings from the Jacksonville Jaguars – with whom he spent the first four seasons of his career – at the end of August.
Virtanen signs two-year, $5.1 million contract with Canucks – NHL.com
Jake Virtanen signed a two-year, $5.1 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. It has an average annual value of $2.55 million.
The 24-year old forward was a restricted free agent and avoided a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for Oct. 28. He scored 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists) in 69 games with the Canucks last season and three points (two goals, one assist) in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
“Obviously there’s a bright future with the Canucks organization, so many young, talented players coming in and the moves that we’ve made, I think it’s going to be just a brighter future for our team moving forward,” Virtanen said. “I’m excited to see how it all pans out and how our team’s going to do and super excited to get things going.
“[Contract negotiations] felt like a long time but obviously super excited to get this done and be back with the Canucks for two more years. Just happy to get it done and get it over with and just focus on training and skating and the whole thing, being ready to go.”
With forward Tyler Toffoli signing a four-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 12, it opened up a spot on one of the top two lines, and Virtanen is hoping he’ll get a chance to play there.
“Obviously I’d love to play top six and have a bigger opportunity, more responsibilities,” Virtanen said. “That’s what I really hope I get. I want to be able to prove that to the team and my teammates that I can play up there and be consistent every night, making sure that I can play night in and night out. It’s an opening for me to try to jump up there. I’ve got to make sure I’m coming to camp ready to go.”
Selected by Vancouver in the first round (No. 6) of the 2014 NHL Draft, Virtanen has scored 95 points (50 goals, 45 assists) in 279 regular-season games and three points in 16 playoff games.
“Jake has continued to make progress on his two-way game and remains a contributor offensively, using his speed and size to generate chances,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. “We look forward to him taking additional steps in his growth this year to help our team be successful.”
NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report
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