With Brendan Gallagher, Joel Armia and now Josh Anderson on the right wing, the Montreal Canadiens did not seem predestined to hire Tyler Toffoli.
However, there is reason to think that the attacker brings a baggage of tools that the CH was lacking if he intends to become a competitive team again from next year.
At least, that’s what Dennis Bernstein, who covers the Kings from Los Angeles for the magazine, suggested. The Fourth Period, in addition to intervening on different platforms such as the network NHL Network.
“It’s a good shot from ‘Berge’. The Canadian can expect about 25 goals from him, ”he told TVASports.ca on Monday in a telephone interview.
Toffoli should make CH a more threatening power-play team. Posted in the middle of the circles, the Ontarian has the quick trigger and can do some damage. For the past two years, Joel Armia has been employed at this point of the ice and the Finn has settled for five goals on the massive offense.
“He’s still got a great wrist shot and if you feed him for a receiving shot he can certainly help the power play for CH. From the middle of the circles he can hit the target, ”said Berstein.
This could do a lot of good for a team whose power play has ranked 22e last season (17.7% efficiency).
The right center
At five on five, however, it will be important to match Toffoli with the right center.
Even though he’s been working on this aspect of his game since being drafted by the Kings, the Maverick isn’t a very explosive skater. In Los Angeles, he was sometimes the victim of a bad casting.
“He’ll have to play with someone who makes it easy to play,” Bernstein said. He had his best years in Los Angeles with Jeff Carter. What’s weird about Tyler is that he never had great chemistry with Anze Kopitar, even though the latter is excellent. But when he played with JT Miller and Elias Pettersson in Vancouver, he started producing again. ”
“Towards the end of the season, the Kings second center was Gabriel Vilardi. They didn’t really have a center player who was able to maximize his production. ”
As Toffoli is not a particularly good striker at creating space for himself, Bernstein believes he should be placed to the right of a good passer.
“If we use it on the third line, I would use it with Jesperi Kotkaniemi or Nick Suzuki rather than Phillip Danault. He needs a center player with an attacking mentality, ”he explained.
Not a left winger
In the hours following his hiring, several supporters on social media described Toffoli as a forward who can play both left and right.
That is not exactly correct. The 28-year-old athlete is, above all, a natural right winger.
“In Los Angeles, he wasn’t playing on the left,” Bernstein said. If it happened, it was for a few games or a few appearances, but as far as I’m concerned, he was a right winger. He could learn to play on the left, I guess, but I don’t see the point. It’s more plausible that Joel Armia will become the right winger of the fourth line. ”
Armia has previously held such a role with the Winnipeg Jets. So it wouldn’t be anything new for him. And let’s not forget that CH coach Claude Julien firmly believes that his team is more difficult to face when they employ four trios in rotation.
This strategy is easier to implement with the depth the CH now has. The picture was completely different when the Montreal squad prepared to play its first game in the Toronto bubble, on July 28, against the Maple Leafs. Paired with Jonathan Drouin and Nick Suzuki, Armia then occupied the right wing of the second line.
“Now you have Toffoli, Gallagher and Anderson on the right. It’s a pretty deep team. In the last playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning had three lines scoring goals, ”Bernstein recalled.