Possible trade destinations for Flames star Matthew Tkachuk

Eric Francis joins Sportsnet Central to discuss what the Flames are looking to get back in a Matthew Tkachuk deal, which teams are looking to trade for the all-star forward & how the Flames will try to fill in the gaps left by Gaudreau and Tkachuk.

Between some draft day drama plus a flurry of surprise signings and trades, the NHL off-season has been rather wild thus far. It has been a specifically memorable off-season for the Calgary Flames, and the intrigue in Alberta doesn’t appear to be subsiding.

The team watched Johnny Gaudreau walk in free agency and sign a seven-year, $68.25-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets – a contract with less term and dollars than Calgary's offer – and now fellow star forward Matthew Tkachuk seems poised to leave town.

Sportsnet’s Eric Francis suggested “no one in the hockey world should be surprised if (Tkachuk) is traded within the next week or two,” and on Wednesday it was revealed the restricted free agent doesn’t intend on signing a contract extension with the team that selected him sixth overall in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The team filed for salary arbitration with Tkachuk on Monday, which eliminated the possibility of an offer sheet. Initially, the move was supposed to buy time to negotiate a long-term extension, however since that apparently doesn’t interest the player what it ultimately means is it buys Calgary some added time to trade Tkachuk’s rights or work out a sign-and-trade.

Players are only eligible to sign eight-year contracts when re-signing somewhere, per the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The NHLPA confirmed Tkachuk’s arbitration hearing has been set for Aug. 11.

The 24-year-old American is coming off a three-year, $21-million deal and a season during which he scored a career-high 42 goals and 104 points in 82 games, adding 10 points in 12 playoff contests.

Tkachuk has submitted to Calgary brass a list of teams with whom he’d be willing to sign long-term. There were reportedly five or six teams on the list, however, it remains unclear exactly which teams Tkachuk included.

With that in mind, here is a selection of teams we expect to show interest in Tkachuk regardless of whether they are on the player’s official wish list. (All contract details and monetary figures below are courtesy of CapFriendly)

St. Louis Blues

Longtime Blues reporter Jeremy Rutherford confirmed to 101 ESPN St. Louis on Wednesday that “the Blues are on the list,” which shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Tkachuk is no stranger to the city and surrounding area having been raised there. His dad, Keith Tkachuk, spent 543 of his 1,201-game NHL career with the Blues. Keith works as the organization’s director of player recruitment.

DailyFaceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported earlier this month “Blues GM Doug Armstrong has quietly explored the potential of moving (Torey) Krug.” There is a decent amount of money and term tied up in St. Louis’s blue line. Krug, Justin Faulk and Colton Parayko all have AAVs of $6.5 million. Krug, 31, and Faulk, 30, are signed through 2026-27 and Parayko, 29, through 2029-30. Nick Leddy, 31, is signed at $4 million AAV for the next four years. Those four defenders each have no-trade clauses in their respective contracts although they don’t kick in until at least 2025 (Parayko’s in 2028) so they are movable assets.

Vladimir Tarasenko previously requested a trade out of St. Louis. The skilled winger has one year and a $7.5-million AAV remaining on his contract, plus a no-movement clause (NMC) he’d need to waive. Ryan O’Reilly has an identical one year and $7.5-million cap hit set to come off the books at the end of the 2022-23 campaign.

St. Louis currently has the oldest 20-man roster in the Western Conference with an average age of 28.8, so Tkachuk’s addition would help lower that average – although they’d perhaps be required to include a younger player, like Jordan Kyrou for example, to nab a star like Tkachuk. The Blues hold all their own draft picks from 2023-2025 apart from a second-rounder next year.

Vegas Golden Knights

It would take quite the effort from Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon to work out a deal that would see Tkachuk reunited with his former USNTDP teammate Jack Eichel. McCrimmon has been battling the NHL’s flat cap all throughout the off-season, offloading Max Pacioretty and Evgenii Dadonov without getting anything significant in return.

The Golden Knights already have more than $71 million committed to the 2023-24 cap and they’re not done signing all their RFAs. Keegan Kolesar, Nicolas Roy and Nicolas Hague are RFAs needing new deals, and Brett Howden and Nolan Patrick are set to become RFAs next summer.

Vegas might be the league’s second-youngest franchise yet they’ve got the seventh-oldest roster at the moment. Alec Martinez, 34, Brayden McNabb, 32, Jonathan Marchessault, 31, Reilly Smith, 31, and William Karlsson, 29, all have modified no-trade clauses, while Eichel, 25, Alex Pietrangelo, 32, and Mark Stone, 30, have full NMCs.

Vegas has its first-round picks in each of the next three years. Zach Dean, Daniil Chayka, Brendan Brisson, Daniil Miromanov and Pavel Dorofeyev are among the notable prospects in Vegas’s system. At the end of the day, though, would Calgary really consider trading Tkachuk within the Pacific Division?

New Jersey Devils

You sort of get the sense Tom Fitzgerald felt slighted by Gaudreau’s pivot away from negotiating with New Jersey. So, would the Devils GM, who happens to be a cousin of the Tkachuks, turn his attention back to another Flames forward?

Even after signing Ondrej Palat to a $30-million contract, the Devils have cap space available to enhance the team’s upward trajectory. The Devils have missed the playoffs in nine of the past 10 years, including the past four seasons, but have Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Dougie Hamilton locked up long-term and 2022 second-overall pick Simon Nemec has already signed his entry-level contract.

Damon Severson, Ryan Graves, Tomas Tatar, Erik Haula and Andreas Johnsson are slated to become UFAs after this upcoming season. Beyond those five players, the Devils have an assortment of skaters under the age of 26 and a healthy prospect pool. Jespers Boqvist and Bratt plus Miles Wood are RFAs without contracts for 2022-23.

New York Rangers

The Broadway Blue Shirts appear they’re about to enter full-blown win-now mode with one of the deepest rosters in the Eastern Conference plus the reigning Vezina Trophy winner between the pipes. If you’re Tkachuk, why wouldn’t you consider the Rangers?

What if the Flames asked for K’Andre Miller or Ryan Lindgren? Would GM Chris Drury be willing put a dent in his own defence corps to make his forward group more intimidating? Maybe a burgeoning forward like 2023 RFA Filip Chytil? The Rangers added Vincent Trocheck in free agency but otherwise have been fairly quiet following the team’s first trip to the conference finals since 2015.

Ottawa Senators

Pierre Dorion has been aggressive this summer. They added Alex DeBrincat, Claude Giroux, Cam Talbot, got rid of Matt Murray and inked Josh Norris to an eight-year extension. The team has an abundance of space to take on salary – in case Calgary wanted to offload a bad contract or two with Tkachuk.

Giroux is Ottawa’s lone forward with a NMC. Defencemen Nikita Zaitsev and Nick Holden both have modified no-trade clauses. Ottawa has an extra second-round pick in 2024. Tkachuk’s younger brother Brady is the team’s captain and is signed there for another six years.

Nashville Predators

David Poile has shown little aversion to pulling off a blockbuster trade over the years. Swapping Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen in 2016 and the three-team deal involving the Avalanche and Senators in 2017 is proof of that, however, the team has not won a playoff series in four years and could use a metaphorical kick in the pants. Poile bolstered the back end with the acquisition of Ryan McDonagh at the beginning of the month and the team added Nino Niederreiter Thursday but the team has been quiet otherwise. Nashville is always cap compliant so money wouldn’t be much of an obstacle.

Predators captain and perennial Norris Trophy contender Roman Josi isn’t going anywhere and Filip Forsberg just signed a new deal to keep him in Nashville until 2030. Besides those two franchise cornerstones, Poile should be willing to move anyone in the organization if there’s a legitimate chance at landing a player of Tkachuk’s calibre in his prime.

Dallas Stars

GM Jim Nill has more than $11 million in cap space but needs to give RFAs Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson new deals – especially Oettinger, considered by many to be a future Vezina contender. Beyond that Dallas is in a relatively solid position cap-wise to pull off a sizeable move, granted both sides agree on what’s going back the other way. One would think Roope Hintz or Denis Gurianov would be forwards Calgary could look to replace some of Tkachuk’s offence they’d be losing.

Detroit Red Wings

There is no reason why Steve Yzerman shouldn’t give the Flames a phone call and an earnest pitch. Detroit has an extra 2023 second-round pick they acquired from St. Louis at the trade deadline and only a handful of players signed beyond 2024, including off-season additions Andrew Copp, Ben Chiarot and Ville Husso.

RFA Filip Zadina, the sixth-overall pick from 2018, needs a new contract before next season and could be a target, plus captain Dylan Larkin must be re-signed before becoming a UFA after 2022-23. Buffalo and Columbus are the only rosters younger than Detroit’s as of this week, so Calgary could expect some youth in return if a deal with the Red Wings presented itself and Tkachuk approved.

Florida Panthers

Another team rumoured to be on Tkachuk’s list, the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners are looking to rebound from playoff disappointment. Like Vegas, clearing cap space would be top priority for a Panthers team coming off its best regular season ever. Florida would likely want to relieve themselves of Patric Hornqvist’s final year and his $5.3 million cap hit – especially since they’ll be dinged with $6.575 million in dead cap in 2022-23 thanks to the contract buyouts of Keith Yandle and Scott Darling. Florida also has a dearth of draft picks, missing their first and third in 2023, plus their first and second in 2024.

New York Islanders

Lou Lamoriello hasn’t done much of anything since acquiring Alexander Romanov from Montreal at the draft. They were reportedly interested in Gaudreau before Johnny Hockey signed in Columbus. Only nine teams scored fewer goals than the Isles in 2021-22 and only eight players scored more goals than Tkachuk this past season. Mathew Barzal could use another top linemate but would Lamoriello part with a prospect like Aatu Raty and water down an already relatively weak prospect pool?

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