The clock is officially ticking on a trade for Matthew Tkachuk.
On Thursday, the NHLPA announced that Calgary’s club-elected arbitration hearing with Tkachuk has been scheduled for Aug. 11. That’s good news for the Flames, because the timeframe for those hearings is July 27 to Aug. 11, and that it’s set for the final day of that window gives them the most time possible to find a trade.
So now we have an end date, and it’s not far off.
In the meantime, while Calgary works with the teams on the list of clubs Tkachuk is willing to sign a long-term contract with, I pulled together a few of my colleagues at The Athletic and beyond to evaluate five trade proposals the Blues could offer the Flames.
Hailey Salvian is our Flames beat writer and can give us an idea of what they might want in return, and Sean Gentille and Dom Luszczyszyn, two of our national writers, can provide analysis of these potential deals.
Hart Levine, who operates PuckPedia, will evaluate these proposals from a salary-cap perspective. The Blues are currently $125,000 over the 2022-23 cap ceiling of $82.5 million, so we’ll have to take into account Tkachuk’s $9 million-plus salary next season, which would put the Blues in a dollar-in, dollar-out situation.
First, let’s hear from Salvian on what it might take.
“In exchange for Tkachuk, the Flames will be looking for a package that includes controllable assets — whether that’s young prospects on their entry-level deals or established players with years under team control. They will not want to trade Tkachuk for a player who can just leave in one or two years.
“My guess is an ideal package looks like a combination of an established NHL player, a top prospect and a high draft pick. In terms of the actual needs, finding top-end talent to replace what the Flames have lost this summer will be important. It’s also possible — because Tkachuk has control over the situation — that the Flames approach this as grabbing the best deal possible, rather than filling specific holes in the lineup.”
The Blues have players, prospects and picks that may interest the Flames. The problem is some of those team-controlled players have no-trade clauses, there might not be many prospects in the pipeline who warrant consideration in a Tkachuk trade and, meanwhile, general manager Doug Armstrong already moved his 2023 second-round pick in last season’s deal to Detroit for defenseman Nick Leddy.
For the purposes of this article, we’re not going to factor in no-trade clauses because we can’t assume whether players will waive them or not. We’ll have to work around that missing second-round pick, which won’t be easy because the Blues may be hesitant to give up top players, prospects and a first-round pick, and from Calgary’s standpoint, a third-rounder might not be enough.
We’ll also be focusing on players who make the most sense for Armstrong to move. For example, Jordan Kyrou is a talented young player the team may not be able to afford to re-sign if it gets Tkachuk; Vladimir Tarasenko, of course, has requested a trade; and with eight defensemen on one-way contracts, Marco Scandella and Scott Perunovich are other names you’ll be seeing a lot.
Proposal No. 1
Blues get: Tkachuk
Flames get: Kyrou, Torey Krug, Zachary Bolduc
Gentille: If you’d have told me earlier this week to come up with a Tkachuk hypothetical and that I had 30 seconds to get it done, this is where I’d have landed. It makes almost too much sense. Kyrou is a wonderful young player who can help Calgary today, tomorrow and down the line with franchise-cornerstone potential. Krug works on both ends; the Blues need to clear space, and he carries a $6.5 million average annual value, and the Flames aren’t interested in a full teardown. Krug would help there. Bolduc is a prospect with pedigree and second-line potential. This is as equitable as it’s going to get. Everyone wins.
Luszczyszyn: If the Blues are getting Tkachuk, sending Kyrou back to the Flames is a must as a starting point. Kyrou proved to be a legitimate first-line forward last year, and he’s the obvious centerpiece, but there still needs to be a lot more. Tkachuk is a superstar — one of the few players in the league projected to be worth four wins. Krug is fine, but defense isn’t a need for the Flames and his contract has negative value. Zach Bolduc is a fine prospect, but his upside probably isn’t enough to bridge the gap.