Tkachuk, Flames ready to put Eichel talk in rearview amid hot start

Matthew Tkachuk shares his thoughts about being included in Jack Eichel trade rumours.

Given his bloodlines, not to mention his importance to the Flames organization, Matthew Tkachuk knew exactly where to park the rumour suggesting he was dangled in an attempt to land Jack Eichel.

“I had a hard time believing it was true,” began the Flames winger, hours after Eichel’s trade to Vegas was announced.

“So, I just went about my business like I normally do the night before a game.”

His phone did indeed ring Wednesday night with news, courtesy of GM Brad Treliving, informing him the curiously placed rumour was, in fact, false.

“He talked to me, but I’ll just keep that between us,” said Tkachuk.

“It was very quick. All good.”

Suffice it to say, there won’t be any lingering trust issues between Tkachuk and management, as it was never hard to see through how the lone report came to be.

At the 11th hour of a lengthy process that had been whittled down to two competing offers, there was well-connected ESPN insider Kevin Weekes upping the ante Wednesday by suggesting via Twitter that the Flames’ highest-paid player was part of an offer that also included two prospects, a future first rounder and a former first rounder.

It’s not lost on several sources inside the Flames organization that Weekes and Sabres GM Kevyn Adams just so happen to have been teammates for three years in Carolina.

Did it push the Golden Knights to augment their offer?

Well, all is fair in love, war and sports swaps.

At the end of the day, despite doing endless due diligence on the medical and player personnel side of a potential swap for Eichel, the Flames were outbid.

How or why is irrelevant now.

Treliving declined comment, but sources confirm the Flames saw an Eichel acquisition as a unique opportunity worth pursuing hard, despite the risks involved with his injured neck.

That said, the club was never willing to make the deal at the expense of the team’s core, which has the Flames off to a 6-1-2 start.

Asked who would have been part of a package totaling $9 million in salary heading back to Buffalo, a source would only say the Flames offer was “very creative.”

Sportsnet has learned Sean Monahan was not part of that package.

Nor was Tkachuk, as Adams himself clarified Thursday morning at the press conference announcing the trade.

“It’s out of our control, all that stuff,” said Tkachuk, who said he didn’t have to discuss the nuances of trade rumours with his father, Keith.

“If (a trade) would have happened here it would have obviously affected some guys you’re close with, and we’ve all dealt with players that have been traded. It’s just part of the business.

You don’t deal with that stuff until it happens. You don’t want to think about it, you don’t speculate, you don’t plan accordingly. You just go about your business.”

Fact is, business is good in Calgary these days, making it easy for the players and organization to put the Eichel talk in the rearview mirror.

“Things are going great for our team right now - we’re playing well, we’re enjoying it and we’ve got a great group of guys,” added Tkachuk, who said he hasn’t spoken to his American pal, Eichel, lately.

“He got traded to a division-rival that we’ve had some battles with, and I’m sure we’ll have some battles with them coming up soon. That’s just part of the business - guys get traded all the time.”

It was never a secret the Flames had interest in Eichel, dating back to the summer when the team began researching the medical dilemma the centre faced.

Ultimately the Flames were comfortable consenting to the replacement disk surgery Eichel desired, making them eligible as a potential trade partner.

Alas, the package Vegas offered made the most sense to Adams, whose club acquired Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a 2022 first rounder and a 2023 second rounder in exchange for Eichel and a third rounder.

The reaction to losing out on Eichel in Calgary was a split between those who blamed Treliving for failing to make it happen and those who thought he was crazy to pursue the injury superstar in the first place.

The reality is, Treliving was extremely wary of disrupting his current group and deserves credit for balancing that while also trying to capitalize on a unique situation involving the type of impact centre the Flames have long coveted.

Things didn’t work out, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Treliving, Tkachuk and the Flames can now continue focusing on building off an impressive start that may just keep them in the headlines anyway.

If they can keep it up, that is.

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