It’s not surprising that most NHL trade rumor mongers and most Bruins fans are going to spend most of the time reviewing the massive Taylor Hall trade, or wondering where Ilya Kovalchuk is going to wind up now that he’s an unrestricted free agent released from the three-year overpayment contract he received from the Los Angeles Kings.
But there are non-household names that will be made available ahead of this year’s NHL trade deadline, and that has been the modus operandi of Bruins general manager Don Sweeney more often than not when it comes to trading for players.
Wingers like Marcus Johansson, Lee Stempniak and Drew Stafford have come into the B’s fold at relatively low cost during the deadlines with Sweeney at the controls, and they have all done a pretty solid job contributing in Boston with varying levels of success.
With the Kings in Boston for a Tuesday night showdown with the Bruins at TD Garden, there will be plenty of focus on the 36-year-old Kovalchuk given that the Bruins were one of the teams interested in the Russian sniper when he signed with L.A., and given that the Bruins still need more scoring punch among their top-6 forwards.
But a lesser-known name still on the Kings roster, Tyler Toffoli, might end up being another one of those modest trade targets for the Bruins when it’s all said and done.
The Bruins have been interested in Toffoli for the last two seasons, according to league sources, and he’s likely to be dangled at the deadline in the last year of a contract with a Kings team going nowhere.
Bruins Director of Player Development and Personnel Coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner was on the West Coast scouting a couple of Kings games earlier this month in confirmation that the Bruins are evaluating assets on a Kings club once again circling the drain in the Pacific Division.
The 27-year-old Toffoli has nine goals and 20 points in 34 games with a minus-3 rating for Los Angeles, the kind of numbers that would make him the next most productive scoring option behind the Perfection Line trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Better still, Toffoli is a natural right wing who would slot in exactly where the Bruins need somebody on David Krejci’s right side — and the pending UFA could be a young enough player that the Bruins end up retaining him beyond this season if things worked well between the two sides.
Toffoli hasn’t been super-productive in the last three seasons as the Kings have gone downhill, and has averaged just 18 goals and 38 points in the past three seasons, including just 13 goals and 34 points along with a minus-16 last season.
But the bet here is that the 6-foot, 200-pound Toffoli would be energized getting traded to a Bruins team with a legitimate shot at a Stanley Cup, and he’s already proven his playoff credentials with seven goals and 14 points in 26 playoff games when the Kings won the Cup back in 2014.
His 47 games of playoff experience would be invaluable with the Bruins in need of some new blood for this spring’s playoff run after the B's returned nearly the same roster from last spring’s exhausting, exhilarating and ultimately disappointing run to the Cup Final.
The price for Toffoli would be one of the best features of a move for that kind of player. Given his status as a rental headed into free agency and coming off some average years, the Bruins wouldn’t have to give up any of their best prospects or most valued draft picks.
A second- or third-round pick and a B-level prospect would be more than enough to get it done for Toffoli if the Bruins moved on it quickly once the Kings open up their assets for dealing.