The Calgary Flames took a step toward ensuring left-winger Matthew Tkachuk remains on their team for the 2022-23 campaign.
"The Flames have filed for club-elected salary arbitration with Matthew Tkachuk," the team announced. "This provides us the opportunity to continue to work with his representatives towards a contractual resolution while removing the possibility of an offer sheet."
Tkachuk is a restricted free agent heading into the 2022-23 season, so this essentially gives the Flames exclusive negotiating rights as the offseason continues.
Bryan Murphy of Sporting News explained that while players can file for salary arbitration, teams can also take them to arbitration. The latter can only happen one time during a player's career, and said player can never receive less than 85 percent of his salary from the last season in such a scenario.
If the arbitration reaches a hearing, an arbitrator will determine the salary level. The Flames could then decline the decision, which would make Tkachuk an unrestricted free agent.
However, it should be noted that the two sides can continue to negotiate prior to a hearing, which seems to be the plan given Calgary's announcement.
Tkachuk has been with the Flames his entire time in the NHL and is coming off the best season of his career that saw him post 104 points on 62 assists and 42 goals with a plus-minus total of plus-57.
That the Flames already lost Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason makes the need to keep an offensive presence like Tkachuk all the more pressing.
He is just 24 years old, coming off the best season of his career and primed to take on an even bigger role as Calgary looks to take the next step from its second-round playoff appearance in 2022.
The team will likely be motivated to keep him during the upcoming negotiations.