Newark, NJ – The New Jersey Devils found a way to benefit from the mass exodus that appears imminent in Calgary. Tyler Toffoli let the Flames organization know that he preferred to be traded. One of his requests was to go to a team that he can sign an extension with. Now that he landed in New Jersey, both the Devils & Toffoli have a mutual interest in an extension.
“I haven’t really had that discussion yet,” Toffoli explained regarding a potential extension with the Devils. “That was obviously one of the reasons behind leaving Calgary. We’ll see how things kind of move forward here. Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts today and tomorrow. I’m assuming I’ll be on the phone a whole lot. I plan on talking to everybody and seeing if we can move forward here. (An extension) is something that’s on the wish list, for sure.”
How did we get here, though? Before this summer, not many thought the Devils needed to add another difference maker to their top-six with so many weapons at head coach Lindy Ruff’s disposal. Toffoli admits he was waiting for the new regime in Calgary to approach him with talks of an extension. When he learned those weren’t coming, he was ready to move on.
“At my end-of-year meeting, I clarified I wanted to stay (in Calgary),” Toffoli explained. “I talked to (Brad Treliving), obviously (Treliving) is not there anymore. But, the conversation was had and I think everybody knew I wanted to stay. It was one of those things where there wasn’t a whole lot of conversation. It didn’t sound like there was any sort of need for me or want in a way. So, it was a personal decision. I thought it was it was time for myself and for my wife to experience something different and move forward.”
Toffoli has been part of many winning rosters. He helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2014 and reached the finals as a member of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2021 postseason. That was the appeal for Fitzgerald. A veteran, right-shot forward with a plethora of winning pedigree and that has the knack for finding the back of the net. Toffoli checked all those boxes.
The Devils now have a ton of money tied up in their core. Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt finalized their respective eight-year extensions. Jack Hughes has seven years left. Dougie Hamilton has five and Nico Hischier & Ondrej Palat have four each. Dawson Mercer is the next Devil that is surely going to receive a sizeable extension and in the near future, Luke Hughes will eventually need one too.
Regardless, Fitzgerald admits that Toffoli was acquired with the thought that he would play in New Jersey beyond the 2023-24 season.
“No, I actually don’t,” Fitzgerald said when asked if he saw Toffoli as a one-year rental. “With that being said, and I’ve said this before about other players such as Timo Meier and Erik Haula. Come see what we’re all about. (Toffoli) gets a chance to test drive us. He played in Montreal, I believe during the shortened season. Travel was a little different there. Maybe it was the Canadian Division, but it’s an experience. The travel advantage, as you know, in the metro areas is the best in the league. Getting the player was the first thing, the only thing I wanted to do. What happens here from here on in, I have no idea, but we like the player. I wouldn’t have traded for the player if I didn’t want to build a relationship long term with the player. But that’ll take care of itself.”
Next summer will be much less busy for New Jersey. With the work Fitzgerlad has put in thus far, he’ll only have four expiring contracts to figure out next June/July including Toffoli and Mercer. Still, the Devils will have $24,050,000 in cap space next summer. Fitzgerald has put himself in an excellent position to extend Toffoli and Mercer when he’s ready and should still have money left over. Get your pens ready to check Fitzgerald’s name off on your GM of the year ballots.
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