Since being traded from the Los Angeles Kings — the team he won a Stanley Cup with in 2014 — to the Vancouver Canucks in 2020, Tyler Toffoli has played for four different Canadian franchises (and the New Jersey Devils) in just five seasons. After joining the Canucks, he also suited up for the Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets between 2019-24.

After moving place to place like a journeyman over the last half-decade, Toffoli has earned some stability, and he snagged a decent raise after signing a four-year, $24 million pact with the San Jose Sharks on July 1. It's no secret that the Sharks were absolutely awful in 2023-24, winning just 19 games and looking out of the playoff race before the calendar even flipped to 2024.

But things could be very different in the Shark Tank next season. And that's not just because of Toffoli, who scored a very respectable 33 goals and 55 points in 79 games between the Devils and Jets last year. It's because of the extra legwork general manager Mike Grier has done, convincing 2024 No. 1 overall pick Macklin Celebrini to turn professional, along with 2023 No. 4 overall selection Will Smith. Add Alex Wennberg and Barclay Goodrow in free agency and you have a squad that will at least be competitive in 2024-25, something that really couldn't be said about last year's team.

And Toffoli figures to be a key piece of the accelerated rebuild over the next four seasons or so.

Tyler Toffoli is a capable and proven top-6 winger

Winnipeg Jets right wing Tyler Toffoli (73) skates past fans before a game against the Ottawa Senators at Canada Life Centre.
James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

“I think the opportunity was there for me, and obviously the rebuild they have started,” Toffoli said shortly after signing, per “And the draft that they just had, they drafted a couple of guys who are cornerstones for the organization. So, it's an exciting time. Obviously, I started my career in L.A. Knowing how passionate the fan base is definitely encouraged me to make my decision.”

Toffoli was originally selected in the second-round of the 2010 NHL Draft (No. 47 overall) by the Kings, and has suited up in 812 regular-season contests for the Kings, Canucks, Canadiens, Flames, Devils and Jets. He's amassed 260 goals and 521 points in that span, while adding another 46 points in 93 playoff appearances.

He was especially excellent in two deep Stanley Cup runs; one with the Kings in 2014 and another with the Habs in 2021. In the former, Toffoli scored seven goals and 14 points in 26 games in his rookie season, helping LA win their second championship in three seasons (the Kings also beat the Devils in 2012). In the latter, he added another 14 points in 22 games as the Canadiens fell just short, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a five-game 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Toffoli is no stranger to postseason hockey, and he's been great when the stakes are highest. But he's also proven himself as a strong regular-season contributor, and he begins the 2024-25 campaign as probably the best winger on the Sharks' roster. That should earn him ample ice time and likely a look on the top powerplay unit, which is probably one of the reasons the Ontario native chose to return to California in 2024.

Toffoli should look excellent on either Celebrini or Smith's wing

The Sharks are going to be a very, very interesting team to keep an eye on next season — and that's not just because of the addition of Toffoli, along with a few other veterans. It's the young one-two punch that everyone in San Jose is hoping will help this franchise finally win an ever-elusive Stanley Cup: Macklin Celebrini and Will Smith.

Smith went No. 4 overall last year, Celebrini went first this time around, and both young phenoms should be on the opening night roster come October. Realistically, you could slot Toffoli next to either of them, although the veteran will probably hope to be on the top line along with Celebrini come training camp.

But that's not guaranteed, with Mikael Granlund coming off an excellent campaign on a terrible team and likely to occupy the 1C role — at least for the start of the year. And the team does boast a few other young solid wingers, including Fabian Zetterlund and William Eklund. With the additions of Celebrini, Smith and Toffoli, as well as Wennberg and Goodrow, this offensive group is already looking miles ahead of last year.

And if Celebrini and Smith exceed expectations, the Sharks could surprise a lot of people in 2024-25.

Sharks could surprise hockey world next season

Although the defensive core is still very weak, and the goaltending doesn't provide a ton of confidence, the Sharks will at least score a lot more goals next season. And Toffoli should be right in the thick of things after potting 33 last year.

“Tyler is a proven veteran scorer who provides a significant offensive boost to our forward group,” Grier said after the signing. “He has a championship pedigree, winning a Stanley Cup in 2014 along with achieving two gold medals in the World Championship. His experience will be a valuable addition to our team.”

Toffoli is finally going to get some career stability after playing for six teams in five seasons, and he's also earning a raise on his $4.25 million cap hit from 2020-24 (a contract he originally signed with the Canadiens). And, if things don't go well in San Jose, the veteran is no stranger to moving from place to place. At first glance, this looks to be an excellent contract both for a productive veteran, and for a team that has been starved for goals over the last few campaigns.

Here's what ESPN's Greg Wyshynski had to say about the deal:

“Toffoli is going to give their young centers someone to play with who brings NHL experience and dependable offense. He can also be a help to wingers such as William Eklund on the depth chart, and a mentor. For Toffoli, it's a welcome return to the West Coast for a player who had his first eight seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, winning the Stanley Cup there in 2014. The term is the win here, as the Sharks didn't have to make it too lengthy to lure Toffoli to a team that's well outside the playoff picture. The $6 million AAV doesn't matter. The Sharks have plenty of cap space now and for the next few seasons.”

With a fresh start ahead and no voice in the back of his head telling him he could be traded at any time, Toffoli should enjoy a standout season in California. And with a few electric young players coming through the pipeline, this could end up being a phenomenal deal for both player and club. That's especially true if the Sharks can take a significant step forward in the rebuild in 2024-25.

Final Grade: A-