Toffoli happy to wind up in Winnipeg as Jets gear up for playoff drive

Tyler Toffoli took a chance with his hockey future and approves of the new path he’s on.

The veteran forward and fellow New Jersey Devils defenceman Colin Miller were traded to the Winnipeg Jets in two separate deals for draft picks on Friday.

Toffoli said he’s looking forward to joining the Jets, who were second in the Central Division and sixth in the overall NHL standings before Friday’s NHL action.

“I didn’t have a no-move clause, so it’s one of those things where whatever kind of happened, happened,” Toffoli said on a conference call after the trade.

The Toronto native said he expected to be on the move and was glad to be back playing for a Canadian club.

“With (Thursday) and being held out, myself and my wife, Cat, we understood something was most likely going to happen. It was only a matter of time,” Toffoli said. “We’re looking forward to it. We’re going to another Canadian city. There’s nothing better than playing in a Canadian market. It’s a weird feeling, but at the same time, we’re excited. Winnipeg, the fans are very passionate. I’m excited to go there and keep pushing for the playoffs and try and make a run there.”

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Toffoli and Miller will join the Jets in Winnipeg after the team (39-17-5) returns from a two-game road trip. They face the Seattle Kraken on Friday and travel to Vancouver to play the Canucks Saturday.

“Chevy has done an outstanding job at building this team and giving us depth and giving us different options to use,” Bowness told reporters in Seattle after Friday’s morning skate. “He’s done an outstanding job and we’re really happy where we are.”

New Jersey received a third-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in 2025 for Toffoli and retain 50 per cent of his salary. He can become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Toffoli, 31, was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 2010 (47th overall). He also played for the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames. He’s amassed 794 career games and 88 playoff games.

He had 26 goals and 18 assists in 61 games for the Devils this season, including 10 goals and five assists in his past 18 games.

Miller, 31, was traded for Winnipeg’s fourth-round pick in the 2026 draft. He had four goals and four assists with the Devils in 41 games this season.

The blueliner from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was drafted in 2012 (151st overall) by the Kings and has 507 regular season and 40 playoff games on his resume. He’s also suited up for the Boston Bruins, Vegas Golden Knights, Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars.

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Reinforcements were needed as the Jets battle in a tight Western Conference against teams that also bolstered their rosters through trades.

“Wild. Wild. Wild west,” Cheveldayoff said to reporters Friday when asked how to describe the conference.

Cheveldayoff already acquired forward Sean Monahan from the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 2 for a 2024 first-round draft pick and a conditional third-rounder in the 2027 draft.

Monahan, who can become an unrestricted free agent after the season, has eight goals and one assist in 13 games since joining the Jets. Overall, he’s put up 21 goals and 44 points in 62 games.

“When they got (Monahan), that was a message sent to the team,” Jets top centre Mark Scheifele said after the morning skate. “Getting (Toffoli) was an even bigger one.

“It was a good message and it shows a lot of faith in this group. I’m very, very excited for what this team can do and I’m ready to welcome him aboard.”

Cheveldayoff was asked if he’s had this kind of “tool box” during his 13-year tenure with the Jets.

“Well, it’s going to take every tool in that tool box to get us to what we want to get accomplished,” he replied. “You see over the course of time, teams that are fortunate enough to go long and deep into the playoffs, sometimes it’s a battle of attrition. You need those guys.”

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Cheveldayoff pointed to Toffoli and Miller’s playoff experiences as key reasons for the trades.

Toffoli won the Stanley Cup in his rookie 2013-14 season with the Kings, while Miller went to the final with Vegas in 2018.

“The team is really good, playing really well,” Toffoli said of the Jets. “Feels like all the pieces are there. So it’s just a matter of getting there and trying to fit in as fast as possible and getting to work.”

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