Matthew Tkachuk-Blues trade proposals: Evaluating 5 potential packages for the Flames star

Matthew Tkachuk-Blues trade proposals: Evaluating 5 potential packages for the Flames star

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 reference, here are the Blues’ 10 players who have some form of trade protection:

Player Contract clause

Full no-trade

Full no-trade

Full no-trade

Full no-trade

Full no-trade

Full no-trade

Full no-trade

Full no-trade

Modified 12-team no-trade list

Modified 7-team no-trade list

And here are the top prospects in the Blues’ system:

Player Position Drafted Age

Jake Neighbours

RW-LW

1st round (No. 26) 2020

20

Zachary Bolduc

C

1st round (No. 17) 2021

19

Scott Perunovich

D

2nd round (No. 45) 2018

23

Jimmy Snuggerud

RW

1st round (No. 23) 2022

18

And here’s a look at the draft picks the Blues have over the next three years:

Year 1st round 2nd round 3rd round

2023

Blues

Traded to Detroit

Blues

2024

Blues

Blues

Blues

2025

Blues

Blues

Blues

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.

PuckPedia: This is a net $300,000 cap-hit savings for the Blues with Tkachuk at $9 million, so it’s basically cap neutral when adding another roster player. Kyrou has one more year at $2.8 million and then is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights (requiring a $3.2 million qualifying offer) and unrestricted free agent eligible in 2025 (two years after his current contract expires). Calgary would have team control of him for three years, along with Krug for five years. St. Louis can make this fit this year, and next year would have $21 million in cap space for 12 players, with Ryan O’Reilly and Tarasenko as key free agents.

Proposal No. 2

Blues get: Tkachuk

Flames get: Vladimir Tarasenko, Ivan Barbashev, 2023 first-round pick

Gentille: Here’s our “win now” package for the Flames. That gives it some cache — and would count as a win for Armstrong, I think. A year ago, Tarasenko seemed to be immovable. Here, he’s a major component in a Tkachuk trade. Calgary gets a 30-goal replacement, albeit an older one on an expiring deal. As for Barbashev, I’m not sure how many folks are aware of how good he was last season. He’s cheap, too, at $2.25 million for one more season. The issue is that Calgary seems to be looking for players with team control on the books, and they’re not getting it. Maybe the prospect of flipping one (or both) at the deadline would be attractive. It’s a good package; I’m just not sure it checks enough boxes for the Flames.

Luszczyszyn: This deal includes a first-round pick, which is nice, but if Tkachuk is going the other way to a team that was close to contention last year, chances are it’s a late first-round pick. That’s not super enticing for a player of Tkachuk’s caliber, and the player value coming elsewhere isn’t enough. Tarasenko had a nice renaissance last season, but he’s older, far from Tkachuk’s level, and is one year away from unrestricted free agency. I’m not too high on Barbashev, either. Combining Trade 1 and 2 in some way is closer, but neither is close to enough.

PuckPedia: This is a net $750,000 cap savings for the Blues with Tkachuk at $9 million, making it cap neutral when another roster player is added. As pending UFAs, Calgary could lose both Tarasenko and Barbashev for nothing in a year, leaving just the late first-round pick. This would fit cap-wise for St. Louis this season, while next year would be challenging with just $14 million in cap space for 13 players while needing to re-sign Kyrou and O’Reilly. However, getting Tkachuk for such a low trade cost makes figuring out next season’s cap situation a good problem to solve down the road.

Proposal No. 3

Blues get: Tkachuk

Flames get: Kyrou, Jake Neighbours, Scandella, 2023 third-round pick

Gentille: This seems like a steep price to pay for the Blues, yeah? I don’t think we need to talk about Kyrou much more. He’s very good and will soon be very expensive. There seems to be concern about Neighbours’ ceiling, but he’s also got a lot going for him: size, skill, personality and skating that, according to The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler, has improved. Scandella is a cap dump, but not a big enough one to make accommodating Tkachuk a one-stop shop. It’s not far off, but I’m not sure Calgary has enough leverage to make this one happen.

Luszczyszyn: A similar element to Trade 1, but swapping Bolduc for Neighbours. I don’t know enough about prospects to say which is more enticing — they’re probably interchangeable as the team’s top prospect. But neither seems like the type of blue-chip, high-end prospect that moves the needle in a deal like this. One of them needs to be included with Kyrou, but the Blues need to give up more. I don’t think a third-rounder is enough, especially if the team is dumping Scandella’s salary in the process.

PuckPedia: This is a net $2.925 million cap hit for St. Louis with Tkachuk at $9 million, putting them $3.05 million over the cap, meaning they would need to make another cap-clearing move to be compliant this season. Their cap situation would be better next year with $17 million available for 12 players. This deal gets Calgary two young players with three and seven years of team control, respectively, while maintaining cap flexibility for this season. Scandella has two years left at $3.275 million, which worst-case scenario could be traded with some retention.

Proposal No. 4 (three-team trade)

Blues get: Tkachuk, Anthony Beauvillier 

Islanders get: Tarasenko

Flames get: Kyrou, Perunovich, Islanders’ 2023 first-round pick

Gentille: This is a fun one. It involves the Blues taking on some salary, but not enough to dismiss it outright. The Islanders have been looking for a scoring winger to pair with Mathew Barzal all offseason long. It hasn’t happened, and it’s nearly impossible to imagine them finding a way to land Tkachuk themselves … but Tarasenko? Not a bad Plan B. Moving out Beauvillier, one of their few legitimately tradeable pieces, helps from a cap standpoint and gives the Blues a decent middle-six option. He’s not a Kyrou replacement, but he’s something. Calgary gets Kyrou, a first-rounder that figures to be somewhere in the teens, and Perunovich, a young, cheap, no-doubt NHL defenseman so long as he can stay healthy. Feels like Blues fans will hate losing him, but so it goes. They did without him for most of last season.

Luszczyszyn: So the Islanders trade a first and Beauvillier for Tarasenko, and the Blues give up Tarasenko, Kyrou and Perunovich to somehow get Tkachuk and Beauvillier? Really nice haul for them, but I have no idea why the Islanders do this. Especially with 2023 being a very deep draft.

PuckPedia: St. Louis adds $2.1 million net cap hit in these deals, putting them $2.225 million over the cap, requiring another cap-clearing move (Barbashev?). Beauvillier has two years at $4.15 million before UFA, and the Blues would have $10 million in cap space next year for 14 players. Calgary saves $5.45 million in the deal, leaving them $16.6 million of cap space this season and lots of flexibility. The Islanders take on $3.35 million cap hit for one year and clear Beauvillier’s $4.15 million for next season but are left with $7 million of space this season with Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov to sign.

 

Proposal No. 5 (two separate trades)

Blues get: Tkachuk

Flames get: Tarasenko, Bolduc, Klim Kostin 

In a separate trade, Coyotes get: Blues’ 2023 third-round pick to take Scandella’s contract

Gentille: Here’s the deal you’ll want if you’re hoping the Blues add Tkachuk and solve their cap issues in one swoop. Arizona, as we’ve seen them do so often, buys a draft pick by taking on a bad contract (Scandella at $3.275 million for two more years). It makes sense, then, for this one to feel a bit thin for the Flames. Betting that Tarasenko sticks around and produces would be tough for them. Bolduc is well-regarded. Kostin was a first-round pick but doesn’t profile as much more than a decent bottom-six guy, at this point. Will we get to a point where St. Louis has enough leverage to force something like this? Time to wait and see.

Luszczyszyn: No Kyrou and no first-round pick means a “no” from me. I don’t think Tarasenko and his current contract is a strong enough centerpiece, especially without a first-rounder going Calgary’s way. The rest of the package is just assets, but none seem very attractive relative to getting Tkachuk, a game-breaking superstar. I think adding at least a first-round pick to Proposal Nos. 1 or 3 is close to the ballpark of value for me. If this is what the Blues are offering, and the Flames are entertaining it, that is absolutely wild. Having leverage of where Tkachuk wants to play must be nice!

PuckPedia: St. Louis adds $1.5 million net cap hit in the initial trade, putting it $1.6 million over the cap, requiring the Scandella salary dump. Before that dump, the Blues would have $14 million of space next year for 13 players with O’Reilly and Kyrou as key free agents. If they were to move the defenseman to Arizona, they would be $1.675 million under the cap. Bolduc has three years of his entry-level deal remaining, giving seven years of team control, while Kostin is an RFA with an $874,000 qualifying offer and is UFA eligible in four years. Calgary only clears $1.5 million this year but, if Tarasenko doesn’t re-sign, has lots of flexibility going forward.

Conclusion

For starters, you may be wondering, “Why would the Blues give up anything if they can get Tkachuk next summer when he becomes a UFA?” The answer is easy: because he’s expected to sign a long-term extension with another team before the Aug. 11 arbitration hearing and likely won’t be hitting the market next offseason. So if you want Tkachuk, you’d better get him now.

You’d better bring your best offer, and perhaps these proposals were a little bit underwhelming, huh Dom? He’s probably right — a couple of those deals may need a first-round pick added, and perhaps the Islanders are giving up too much in No. 4. But we’re also not accounting for the fact that a player like Tarasenko might sign an extension with the Flames or Islanders.

Finally, as Dom also alluded to, let’s not forget the Blues may gain some leverage if Tkachuk wants to sign in St. Louis. He’s given Calgary a list of teams with which to work, and it’s certainly possible that he’s traded to one of them. But if the NHL All-Star decides that he wants to come home, it may force the Flames’ hand and make one of these proposals more feasible.

(Trade charts courtesy of PuckPedia. Photo: Sergei Belski / USA Today)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.