This is the fourth installment of my series exploring who should be the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens. So far I’ve considered Gallagher, Byron and Petry, and you can access those articles on this website or at https://habather.wordpress.com/
Let’s turn our attention to two more options – Tyler Toffoli and Joel Edmundson. I’m considering them together because their merits are very similar.
Tyler Toffoli is 29 years old and was drafted 47th overall in the 2010 draft by Los Angeles. He spent most of his career with the Kings, before being moved to Vancouver at the 2019-20 trade deadline. He finished the season with the Canucks and then signed as a free agent with the Habs in the 2020 off-season. He is in the second year of a four-year contract worth $4.25M.
Joel Edmundson is 28 years old and was drafted 46th overall in the 2011 draft by St. Louis. He spent several years with the Blues before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in September 2019, heading into the last season of his contract. GM Marc Bergevin traded for his rights at the end of that season, before signing him to a four-year contract worth $3.5M. He is in the second year of that contract.
Both players joined the Canadiens with Stanley Cup rings.
Toffoli was a young but important contributor to the Kings team that won the Cup in 2013-14. That’s a guy who understands what young players can bring, and perhaps what they need to be successful.
Edmundson helped the Blues clinch their first cup in franchise history, playing beside talented defencemen like Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko. That’s a guy who knows how to help the skilled players beside him thrive.
Certainly, when a team is ready to contend, it is invaluable to have players on your roster who know what it takes to win a cup. In the run last season, both players were vocal leaders who stepped up and played important roles for the Habs. Both were comfortable under the bright lights of Montreal and performed well when taking their place before the microphone on a consistent basis.
Toffoli and Edmundson have been named Alternate Captains this year in Shea Weber’s absence.
Both players lead through their play on the ice.
Toffoli and Edmundson each had excellent first seasons in Montreal. Toffoli became an important clutch goal scorer. Edmundson formed one of the top defence pairs in the league alongside Jeff Petry. Toffoli has struggled this season – in fact, he has struggled since an injury late last season – and Edmundson has not yet played his first game in the 2021-22 season.
The Habs are desperately missing what these two bring when in the line-up and at their best.
Both players have good leadership years left.
As I’m reviewing candidates for the captaincy, my preference is to name someone from the young core. But what if none of them is quite ready? Wearing the C in Montreal comes with its own set of stressors, and caution should be taken not to overwhelm a young player. On the flip side, I’d hate to see the Habs name a captain who is in the twilight of his career and struggling to lead through play on the ice.
Both Toffoli and Edmundson are at an age where they can serve as captain for several years, or as many as are needed before transitioning to one of the young players.
Both players are on very reasonable contracts with term.
Neither of these contracts are ones the Habs should be trying to dump to clear cap space. As much as Toffoli has been slumping, he has had ups and downs in his career and recovers to bring value to his team. For what he typically brings, that contract is a dream.
Edmundson has somewhat of an injury history – this is not his first ride on that horse. If we look back over his history, it’s not odd for him to miss 12-15 games in a season. That aside, the contract is a good one and Edmundson brings value.
Both players could play every day of those deals and it wouldn’t hurt the Habs. Either, or both, of them can be retained for their leadership and that’s money well spent.
Both players could bring a nice return if the Habs wanted to reboot.
As much as we talk about a complete rebuild, it’s not happening in Montreal. But a reboot, reset, retool, or whatever you’d like to call it, looks to be in the cards for the Habs. The reasons that make these players and contracts valuable for the Canadiens are exactly the ones that make them easy contracts to move for value.
A playoff-team may need a goal scorer or a big bruising defenceman to make a skilled puck mover look his best. That same team may not have much appetite for the rental market but would be willing to give up a good return for a player on a team-friendly contract.
Whatever pathway the Habs take with Toffoli and Edmundson, both players can serve them well.
If it were me, I’d be looking to keep both guys to support the young core and try to move on from some tougher contracts. Either player could be a successful captain in Montreal if they stay.
It’s also very possible that if a new leadership group is in play for the trade deadline. If that is the case, the plan is yet to be determined. Other GMs may come shopping in the Toffoli and Edmundson aisle, and that could pay off for the Habs.