8 teams that should try to trade for Calgary Flames star Matthew Tkachuk
The Calgary Flames were three wins away from making it to the Western Conference final mere months ago. Now? Star Johnny Gaudreau has left in free agency to join the Columbus Blue Jackets and Matthew Tkachuk is likely headed to the trade market.
On Wednesday, Jeremy Rutherford and Hailey Salvian of The Athletic dropped a bombshell on a hockey world that is just settling in for a long summer. They report that Tkachuk has told the Flames he will not sign long-term — the 24-year-old is a restricted free agent — and that a trade out of Calgary is likely.
Tkachuk is also due for quite the pay raise after putting up a career-high 42 goals and 104 points in the 2021-22 season. The departure of Gaudreau — who had a career-high 115 points himself — clearly did the Flames negotiations with Tkachuk no favors, as the team is set to lose two players off their top line in a rough offseason.
With a Tkachuk trade likely imminent this summer, here are the eight NHL teams that should trade for the talented young winger.
Vegas Golden Knights
Is this unrealistic given their salary cap woes? Perhaps, but you just know the Golden Knights are going to be in on Tkachuk. Vegas is always sniffing around big trade targets and have been a premier destination for top stars before, such as Jack Eichel.
Of course, the Golden Knights would have to dump a massive amount of contracts or put players on long term injured reserve to make the money work.
St. Louis Blues
Putting Tkachuk on the Blues top line alongside Vladimir Tarasenko feels like a dream come true, doesn’t it? Plus Matt’s father, Keith, was a longtime player for St. Louis in the 2000s and much of the family is local to the area.
The return for Tkachuk will have to be huge from the Blues, especially because the team is quite cap strapped as it is. Both Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly will be unrestricted free agents next offseason as well, so significant money and assets would have to be moved. And yet, Tkachuk to the Blues feels like quite a snug fit.
The Senators have struck big already this offseason between trading for Alex DeBrincat and landing Claude Giroux in free agency, so what’s one more huge move to add to the pile? Not only that, the Senators could reunite team captain Brady Tkachuk with his brother Matt in a move that would bring the Bash Brothers to shame. Plus, we know just how much the love the Tkachuk brothers have for each other.
Ottawa has the cap space to make the move work, but the real question is if the Senators would want to give up one of their young players in return.
New Jersey Devils
After missing out on Gaudreau, don’t be surprised if the Devils are in the running for Tkachuk even after signing Ondrej Palat in free agency. New Jersey has the cap room to work with — with five contracts set to expire after the upcoming season as well — and could be an attractive partner for Calgary with all the young prospects they’ve acquired.
The Devils are set for years down the middle with Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, so now is the time to add scoring talent on the wings in the form of Tkachuk.
New York Islanders
Like the Devils, the Islanders too struck out on the Gaudreau sweepstakes in big fashion. After a poor showing in the 2021-22 season and firing Barry Trotz, the Islanders have to be looking for a spark to center the team going forward.
Not only that, the Islanders biggest strengths have always been in their defensive systems, and their 229 goals scored last year were the 10th worst in the NHL. Bringing Tkachuk into the fold would do wonders for this Islanders offense in need of a boost.
I find it hard to believe that Joe Pavelski will continue to be a near point-per-game player (81 points in 82 games) in his age 38 year. Stranger things have happened, but it’s a lot to ask, especially with the Stars core not getting any younger either. Adding Tkachuk into the mix would, however, do wonders for this Dallas offense and take the brunt of the offensive production off of Pavelski.
Of course, the Stars will need most of their cap space to sign RFAs Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger to sizable deals befitting their talent, but there’s moves that could be made to free up the room to sign Tkachuk.
The Kraken might not be competing for a Stanley Cup next season, but their future looks incredibly bright. Shane Wright and Matthew Beniers are going to be a fearsome center duo in this league and Tkachuk would be a great centerpiece to add into this emerging Kraken core.
Given that Tkachuk wants to sign long-term with a contending team, Seattle might not make sense in the here and now for the young winger. But there’s a lot to like about what the Kraken are building and Tkachuk can get in on the ground level to expedite their process.
Detroit Red Wings
Never count out Steve Yzerman when it comes to getting moves done when it looks like he’s dealing from a position of weakness. The Red Wings are also in a similar boat to the Kraken, though Detroit’s rebuild is much further along than Seattle is to contending. Tkachuk makes sense as a move for the Red Wings to make, but who can say if he wants to go to a team still finding its legs?
At the very least, the Red Wings have the cap space and assets to make a Tkachuk trade work, it would all just depend on Yzerman’s pitch to the Flames and the young winger.