When you hear the term “prototypical Flyer” you probably think a big body, physical, scoring machine. The form of a player that is few and far between in the modern day NHL. But there is one guy who was seemingly born to be a Philadelphia Flyer and his name is Matthew Tkachuk. Weighing in at 6’2 and 210lbs, he is one of the premier players in the league today. He recorded 40 goals and 104 points with the Flames during the 2021-22 season, but it appears his days in Calgary are numbered.
The Flames announced they opted to take Tkachuk to arbitration last week, basically putting an end to his restricted free agent status, making him ineligible for an offer sheet, which seems like an interesting caveat in a potential trade. There’s a good chance an offer sheet would’ve been in the highest bracket, the $10.2+ million category that meant four first round picks as compensation. If the Flames felt there was real pressure of an offer sheet, something that does feel overall unlikely in today’s NHL, they clearly want more than a few draft picks in exchange for their superstar forward.
The biggest fan-created excuse when it came to composing a trade for Alex DeBrincat boiled down to “well, you don’t know if he’s going to sign long-term” which always felt like a cheap cop-out versus something that was ever based in reality. Though, in the case of Tkachuk, it feels like it may hold some actual weight when considering a trade. His ties to St. Louis are very real. He grew up there when his father, Keith, played for the Blues from 2001 to 2010. Based on early rumors, that appears to be the final destination for Matthew, regardless of whether or not it happens immediately.
The Flames have already lost Johnny Gaudreau in free agency, so they’d probably like the best return of roster players to try and stay competitive, but at the same time, without Gaudreau or Tkachuk, do they stand a real chance of staying competitive?
Where does one even begin in a trade for Tkachuk? Well considering everything we just went over, it’s a mixed bag to say the least. There’s a chance he only signs for a year, then walks in free agency next summer, which would provide hesitation to give up a king’s ransom for the guy. But at the same time, any team acquiring him would be landing one of the best players in the game today and won’t come cheap.
A 40-goal, 104-point power forward who was among the league’s best on the powerplay. Oh, and by the way, he’s 24.
Even if Calgary isn’t interested in a haul of draft picks, the 2023 first rounder the Flyers possess should interest any team, especially one in the current turmoil the Flames are facing. It seems safe to assume 22-year-old Joel Farabee would also highlight a potential return, as he’s basically the Flyers’ best young roster player.
Beyond that? It’s anyone’s guess.
Do they want youth? Players such as Cam York or Tyson Foerster? Or do they want established roster players like Ivan Provorov or Travis Konecny? Does a package of up-and-comers like Bobby Brink, Noah Cates and Egor Zamula move the needle? It seems hard to tell right now, but one thing’s for sure, there should be practically nothing should be off limits when it comes to crafting a potential trade.
After the atrocious offseason the Flyers just had, the expectations of them being serious contenders for Tkachuk seems highly unlikely, but if there was ever a guy to go all-in on, Tkachuk is that guy. Of course, that would mean Chuck Fletcher would have to come back from vacation, the one he’s apparently been on since April, and actually do his job. But hey, the man earned it. It can’t be easy negotiating a massive deal with Nic Deslauriers. Just, ya know, a PSA to Chucky and the rest of the front office to consider saving their own asses before it’s too late.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com