Why Tyler Toffoli could be Rangers fit in NHL free agency

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

In what shapes up to be a crucial offseason for the New York Rangers, finding a productive top-six right wing is paramount. General manager Chris Drury stated that all internal and external options will be considered to find the right candidate.

So, that means don’t rule out a pricey free agent, like Jake Guentzel, Sam Reinhart or Jonathan Marchessault. Don’t overlook Kaapo Kakko, Brennan Othmann or even Will Cuylle. And consider every other option in between.

It could also mean Alexis Lafreniere switches lines next season. Lafreniere could play alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, giving Kakko or someone else the chance to flourish with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck.

Drury didn’t outline the Rangers plan this summer, other than to say all options are on the table.

If they want a big-time free agent, the Rangers must free up money under the salary cap to make it happen. That could come in the form of trading Kakko, Jacob Trouba and/or Barclay Goodrow, or buying out one of the latter two.

New York is $10.053 million under the cap and still needs to re-sign restricted free agents Ryan Lindgren and Braden Schneider, plus add another defenseman.

Related: NHL Insider says this Rangers forward is top NHL buyout candidate

Tyler Toffoli could be intriguing free-agent fit for Rangers

NHL: New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
John Jones-USA TODAY SportsCredit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

If the Rangers wish to drop down a tier in free agency, a more cost-effective option is Tyler Toffoli, especially if they don’t get stuck with a long-term contract. Toffoli is 32 and likely wants that one last big contract with the security of significant term. But if the Rangers can keep a Toffoli signing to four years or less, that could be very intriguing.

Toffoli averaged $4.25 million on his last contract, and will see a raise on that, likely at least a million dollars more per season, If he gets into the $6 million range, the Rangers likely would be out on him.

The power forward brings grit, a willingness to forecheck and win puck battles and scoring ability. He’s had consecutive 30-goal seasons and scored 20+ goals seven times. He also a Stanley Cup winner, in 2014 with the Los Angeles Kings, and helped the Montreal Canadiens reach the Cup Final in 2021, when they lost to the Tampa Bay lightning.

Toffoli is a solid power-play performer but he gets it done at even strength too. He scored 24 goals at even strength with the Calgary Flames in 2022-23 and 22 last season with the New Jersey Devils and Winnipeg Jets. He drove play on whatever line he played on last season with New Jersey, a consistent 5v5 presence.

This isn’t the first time Toffoli is an option for the Rangers. Reportedly, they had some level of interest in him prior to the trade deadline this past season, and it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t have been a better fit than Jack Roslovic, whom the Rangers acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets and placed on the top line with Zibanejad and Kreider with les than sterling results.

Even if the Rangers decide to move Lafreniere to that line in 2024-25, Toffoli could be a comfortable fit on a line with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck, too.

Simply, he makes a lot of sense for the Rangers to pursue at the right price and shorter term length this offseason.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

Mentioned in this article:

More About: