Calgary Flames supporters should be terrified by the news. Matthew Tkachuk could be on the way out for the team, less than a week after Johnny Gaudreau was traded away. That’s the fairest interpretation of the news that the Flames filed to take Tkachuk to salary arbitration late Monday.
This isn’t a move to save money on his $9 million qualifying offer, as the 24-year-old restricted free agent is guaranteed to make a fortune following his 42 goals and 104 points this season.
They are going to reward him well. To avoid a one-year contract, but more importantly, to purchase time. Those who believe that a long-term deal with the star winger is in the best interest of both parties would argue that now is the time.
Most realistically, a move for the squad’s second-best player to a team on the other side of the border will be necessary for a few months. I’m a skeptic and a pessimist. It is highly likely that Tkachuk has signaled to the Flames that he does not want to continue his time in Calgary.
If so, the only difference between Tkachuk and his American colleague, Gaudreau, is that Tkachuk is far more open about his intentions than Johnny Ohio was.
To his credit, Flames general manager Brad Treliving declined to comment on the trade when reached by Sportsnet. However, the truth is that Tkachuk must be dealt with as soon as he refuses to sign a multi-year contract. The lesson from Gaudreau’s departure was clear: This can’t happen again.
By signing their $9-million qualifying offer by Friday’s deadline, Calgary Flames took a first step in protecting themselves from the potential of Tkachuk filing for arbitration.
Like Gaudreau did last week, he would have been eligible for free agency next year. Until now, he had refrained from signing it since a contract like that benefited no one.
As long as Tkachuk signed his qualifying offer, potential trade partners would have no option except to extend him for an entire eight years. A return to North America or a larger market would make sense for both Tkachuk and the Flames to work together to make happen. At this point, acrimony would be a waste of time.
There are arbitration hearings scheduled to begin July 27 and extend through August 11, but if Tkachuk goes through the process he cannot negotiate an extension until January 1, 2023.
The best course of action is to engage in a transaction prior to that. As a one-year contract, the anxiety over receiving an offer sheet is unlikely to be great. For a one-year rental, the Flames would get two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a third-rounder if they offered Tkachuk $8.4 million to $10.5 million. Four first-round picks would be required for any amount beyond $10.5 million.
A team would lose a first-, second-, and third-round draught pick if they agreed to a $6.3 million to $8.4 million deal. For one year, the Flames would not be allowed to trade a player like Tkachuk once he signed an offer sheet like this and the team matched it.
It wasn’t going to happen on Monday because of them. No matter what, Tkachuk will sign a long-term contract with the organization that chose him sixth overall in 2016 and has since been rewarded with one of the league’s most distinctive talents. Tkachuk
In order to keep him, the team will use every means at their disposal. Tkachuk’s future in Calgary has been a top priority for management for months now. This is unlikely, however, considering the length of time they’ve had to discuss the turkey.
When a player like Tkachuk, like Gaudreau, says he wants to leave a team, it isn’t because of the money. It’s all about how you live your life and how you raise your family. Because of the distance from his hometown of St. Louis, the fact that it is across a border, and the lack of a new ice rink, Calgary’s position is not good.
Gaudreau’s exit didn’t help matters either. A big change in this franchise’s aesthetic is possible within the next week or so. Regardless of how things turn out, there’s hope for the fans.
Flames supporters received some good news on Monday afternoon. His representative, Ritch Winter, stated on the Eric Francis Show that the 35-goal scorer is open to signing a contract that lasts longer than the one year required to keep him off the free market after his current deal ends.
“I don’t want to get into the negotiations—I share Brad Treliving’s view that it’s never really healthy for the process—but I think ultimately to admit that Andrew has submitted a proposal on a multi-year deal tells you he’s quite interested in staying here despite the uncertainty that surrounds Matthew Tkachuk,” said Winter, ironically.
Whatever the outcome, Matthew Tkachuk will be replaced by another player in a trade. Although a Matthew Tkachuk-type player is unlikely, an Alex DeBrincat could emerge. In the event that Tkachuk gets relocated, you won’t be going anywhere.
Tkachuk and his brother Brady will be playing together in Ottawa if DeBrincat joins the Flames, so it’s interesting that he mentioned DeBrincat. Hold your breath. As Winter put it, “Andrew feels quite at home here. He likes the management team, he enjoys the city, he’s had a positive experience.”
“He told them he’d be open to a longer-term contract,” a source claimed. So far, arbitration has been brought by Oliver Kylington, Matthew Phillips, and Mangiapane.