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Toffoli expected to fill gap left by Boeser on Canucks

Forward excited to play on top line, power play, in 'really good spot' to succeed

by Kevin Woodley / Independent Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Tyler Toffoli was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks from the Los Angeles Kings on Monday to replace injured forward Brock Boeser on the top line and power play as they try to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in five seasons. 

That might seem like a lot of pressure for the 27-year-old, but Canucks forward Tanner Pearson, who played six seasons with Toffoli on the Kings from 2013-18, said otherwise.

"Ty has played in some pretty key situations," said Pearson, who has remained close friends with Toffoli since being traded by the Kings to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 14, 2018. "He had the assist for a double OT Stanley Cup winner (in 2014). I don't know if you can get any more pressure than that."

Video: Canucks acquire Toffoli from Kings for players, picks

Canucks general manager Jim Benning consulted Pearson before making the trade with Los Angeles to help fill the gap left by Boeser, who could be out the rest of the regular season after sustaining a rib cartilage fracture. For Toffoli, that means playing on the Canucks top line with Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller, and slotting in on their top unit on a power play that is ranked fifth in the NHL at 23.7 percent.

"Losing a guy who can put the puck in the net hurts, but gaining another really helps," Pearson said. "He can shoot the puck." 

Toffoli has 34 points (18 goals, 16 assists) in 58 games this season, and in his last game with Los Angeles he scored the first hat trick in NHL outdoor game history in a 3-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche in the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series. 

He said he is ready to be a part of a playoff race with Vancouver (32-22-5), which is in third place in the Pacific Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights. Los Angeles (21-33-5) is in last place in the Western Conference and is on pace to miss the playoffs for the second straight season.

"Definitely makes me a lot more excited," Toffoli said. "The past three years have been kind of frustrating for the Kings, so to be here and in the race, I don't take it for granted like maybe I did a little before, kind of thinking you're always going to be in the playoffs and have a chance."


[RELATED: NHL Trade Tracker | Toffoli traded to Canucks by Kings]


Although Toffoli is in the final season of a three-year contract and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, after trading forward Tim Schaller, forward prospect Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a conditional pick in the 2022 NHL Draft to bring him in, Benning mentioned the possibility of re-signing him in the offseason.

"Obviously, the first step is to bring him here and see where he fits in and how he fits in," Benning said. "I talked to him about maybe let's just see where it all goes and at the end of the season, let's sit down and see if we can figure something out to keep him around here long term."

Toffoli said he hasn't thought about long-term plans. For now, he just wants to fit in on his new team.

"They play fast, they've got a lot of skill, they're exciting, and they have some young talent really pushing towards being elite players in the League, and that's exciting to be a part of," said Toffoli. "I'm 27 years old, but I feel like I've been through a lot. Obviously, I've got some skill and can score, so playing with the guys I'm set up to play with right now, it is a really good spot for me to succeed. I just have to bring my game."

If you ask Pearson, and the Canucks did, that game should be a perfect fit.

"He doesn't have to change his game here at all," Pearson said. "We're not asking him to do anything he wasn't doing before."

Photo courtesy: Vancouver Canucks

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