It appears likely the Calgary Flames will be trading star forward Matthew Tkachuk after he reportedly informed the team he would not be signing a long-term deal with the team.
According to one report, Tkachuk has let Calgary know one of the teams he would welcome a trade to is the Florida Panthers.
Although it appears to a be a longshot for Florida to pull off a monster deal such as this, if Tkachuk has indeed told the Flames he has a preference — it would mean he would be willing to sign a long-term deal with whatever team he was traded to making it much easier for the Flames to maximize his value on their end.
What we know is this: Tkachuk just completed the third and final year of a $21 million deal he signed with the Flames and, as a restricted free agent, is under Calgary’s control for this coming season.
But with the Flames losing Johnny Gaudreau to Columbus as a free agent earlier this month and receiving nothing for him, Tkachuk telling them he will not sign a long-term deal with them allows them to at least get decent return.
As a restricted free agent whom Calgary opted into arbitration with, the Flames could sign Tkachuk to the eight-year maximum contract and then trade him to one of his preferred teams.
Or, he could simply be traded somewhere with the understanding that a max deal will be worked out.
Here is where the Panthers may (or may not) come in.
The Panthers would most definitely welcome the opportunity to bring a player of Tkachuk’s caliber to South Florida.
Tkachuk is only 24 and had a career year this past season, scoring 42 goals with 104 points; he also had 10 points in 12 playoff games as the Flames lost in the second round to the Avs.
The asking price is going to be very high for a player of Tkachuk’s skill level — and should be considering the likelihood a longterm deal would be worked out beforehand insuring this is not a rental situation.
According to various reports including from the Athletic, the Panthers have been a team on Tkachuk’s approval list. Others include Vegas, St. Louis and Dallas.
Florida obviously does not have the cap space to bring on Tkachuk but trade pieces going to Calgary would open things up.
Tkachuk would be expected to get between $9-10 million per season in any new deal — one which would start this coming season.
The Panthers are believed to be working with Jonathan Huberdeau on a similar extension which kicks in next year. With Florida already paying Sasha Barkov and Sergei Bobrovsky $10 million per season, there would not be room for Tkachuk and Huberdeau.
Huberdeau, however, only has one season remaining on his contract at $5.9 million. Trading him — and say MacKenzie Weegar ($3.5 million) — to the Flames gets you close although it certainly would not be enough to engage the Flames.
With Huberdeau and Weegar in the final year of their contracts, that puts Calgary in the same place they are now with Tkachuk.
Other pieces, including players currently in the NHL and some of Florida’s best prospects, would also have to be on the move.
The Panthers, again, may not have what it takes to pull off a trade of this magnitude but it is not impossible.
Tkachuk is one of the top players in the entire league and those do not come available very often.
The Panthers, like every other team in the league outside of Calgary, should try and see if they can make this work.