Best Potential Fits for Flames' Matthew Tkachuk amid Latest NHL Trade Rumors
Johnny Gaudreau may not be the only top offensive player the Calgary Flames will lose this offseason, because it appears another standout forward is ready for a fresh start.
Matthew Tkachuk, who is a restricted free agent, has told the Flames he won't be re-signing with the team, according to The Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford and Hailey Salvian, who noted that a trade is "likely to happen soon" and probably before he heads to an arbitration hearing with the franchise later this summer.
"Tkachuk has not officially asked for a trade, but the fact that the restricted free agent is unwilling to make a long-term commitment to Calgary would be the driving force behind the decision to move him now," Rutherford and Salvian wrote.
So, after Gaudreau signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this month, Tkachuk could be on the move as well. The 24-year-old has already given the Flames a list of teams he'd want to negotiate a long-term contract with, per Rutherford and Salvian.
Although the list may not be official, Rutherford and Salvian heard the following teams were on it: the St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars. The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers are "among the other teams that have expressed interest in the past."
Which of these rumored teams should now seek out a deal with Calgary for Tkachuk's RFA rights? Here's a look at the franchises that would be the best potential fits.
St. Louis Blues
It's no surprise that the Blues have reportedly been included on Tkachuk's list of desired teams.
He may have been born in Scottsdale, Arizona, but he grew up in the St. Louis area after his dad, Keith, was traded from the Coyotes to the Blues in 2001.
The elder Tkachuk played nine seasons for St. Louis during an 18-year NHL career. However, neither of his sons have played for the team, as Matthew has spent his first six seasons in Calgary while Brady has played for only the Ottawa Senators in his four-year career.
It could be time for the Blues to add another Tkachuk, though, and Matthew would be a great fit, especially if they end up trading Vladimir Tarasenko this offseason.
Tkachuk is coming off a season in which he set career highs in goals (42), assists (62), points (104) and games played (82), so he'd be a strong addition at the wing for St. Louis.
The Blues currently have only $625,000 in available cap space, per CapFriendly, so they would need to clear room to bring in Tkachuk.
Even if they don't deal Tarasenko, there may be other moves they could make in order to create space. And that's something they should strongly consider doing, as Tkachuk would boost their offense in a big way.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils already tried to add one former Flames forward this offseason when they came close to signing Gaudreau, who ended up inking a seven-year, $68.25 million deal with the Blue Jackets instead.
“I was trying to get a deal done with the Devils and then Columbus called," the 28-year-old told the Spittin' Chiclets podcast (h/t Mike Johnston of Sportsnet).
The sting from that might lessen if New Jersey can complete a trade for Tkachuk. The Devils still need to be stronger on the wings, but they have a lot of promising young players at center, including Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier.
New Jersey appears to be on the rise, and it already signed forward Ondrej Palat earlier this month. After that, the Devils still have $9.6 million in available cap space, so they have enough financial flexibility to make a trade for Tkachuk and work out a deal.
It's a move that would help this franchise continue to move in the right direction.
Vegas Golden Knights
This may be the least likely landing spot among Tkachuk's desired teams, as Vegas is in a bit of cap trouble.
According to CapFriendly, the Golden Knights are $1.39 million over the limit. So they have work to do while also looking to fill out their roster.
But how fun would it be to see Tkachuk join the strong group of offensive talent already in Vegas? Even though the Golden Knights missed the playoffs last season (for the first time in their four-year NHL history), they have an impressive core that should get them back to postseason contention in the near future.
Adding Tkachuk to the mix would only increase the likelihood that Vegas will be contending again for the Stanley Cup soon. He could form a top-tier line with players such as Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, William Karlsson or Reilly Smith.
So, if the Golden Knights can find a way to clear enough cap space that they could trade for Tkachuk's rights and negotiate a deal, they should do so.
This would be one of the stronger fits for the forward and a great franchise for him to join for the next chapter of his career.