Blues Should Pursue Blockbuster Trade for Matthew Tkachuk

The St. Louis Blues have a great opportunity to acquire superstar forward and St. Louis native Matthew Tkachuk this offseason. He is one of the best power forwards in the league and has a special bond with the franchise, the city, and some of the players on the roster. The Calgary Flames filed for arbitration with Tkachuk earlier in the week, which is not a good sign for their fans. The situation in Calgary is dicey, as they went from a playoff team with 100-plus points to a retooling roster that lost their best player and more.

Related: Blues’ Cap Crunch Could Force Players Out

The Blues have had a quiet offseason to this point, but they could make some serious noise here. Many fans have dreamed the club would eventually acquire Tkachuk, and the most likely option is still free agency after this upcoming season. But with Johnny Gaudreau signing elsewhere and the Flames opting for club-elected salary arbitration for Tkachuk, he could be traded as the Flames begin to retool their roster.

Tkachuk Would Fit Well With Thomas

Tkachuk would again be a 40-goal scorer if he played on a line with Robert Thomas, who is also one of his best friends. He is coming off of a season of 42 goals and 62 assists, and even though that production may not be reached again, he should be able to get close to that playing with Thomas. Not only would the two fit well together, but Tkachuk is also the perfect fit for the Blues’ system.

Matthew Tkachuk Calgary Flames
Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Also, playing with Tkachuk and Pavel Buchnevich would be the perfect scenario for Thomas’ development. There would be no better way for the club to show their commitment to Thomas as the future of the franchise than by giving him an eight-year extension and trading for one of his closest friends. I expect he would hit the 70-assist mark with those two as his wingers.

Keith Tkachuk, Matthew’s father, also had a special bond with the city and franchise during his eight-and-a-half seasons playing in St. Louis, and he is now the Blues’ director of player recruitment. It might be a dream for him to have one of his sons playing for the team.

The opportunity to acquire a 24-year-old superstar with a unique style is rare in today’s NHL, but it’s right there for the Blues. He checks every box, and general manager Doug Armstrong will regret not inquiring about him given the troubles in Calgary.

Is Tkachuk Future Captain Material?

Tkachuk would be a phenomenal leader for the Blues, and he would instantly become part of the long list of players who are captain material. He sticks up for his teammates and has a high compete level. Together, he and Thomas would represent the future of the franchise, as leaders similar to David Backes or Alexander Steen.

Of course, Ryan O’Reilly isn’t going anywhere yet, but the team might need another captain in a few seasons. They have already allowed one to walk in free agency, and O’Reilly could be next, especially given the organization’s salary cap issues. If they are looking to shift the focus of the organization, Tkachuk could help with that.

Contract Extension for Tkachuk

Yes, Tkachuk is due for a hefty contract extension, which makes this a huge opportunity for the organization to commit to a group of leaders for the team’s future. With so many ties to the organization, taking a discount might be a possibility. However, the Blues only have $625,000 in cap space, so – even with a discount – moving out Marco Scandella’s contract and trading another would have to be done to make it work.

Calgary Flames' Matthew Tkachuk
Calgary Flames Matthew Tkachuk (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

I expect the term of this deal would match Thomas’, at eight years. The cap hit is where things could get tricky. A $10 million per season deal doesn’t make much sense for the Blues, so I doubt that happens, but I could see them land somewhere between $9 million to $9.5 million. He scored 100 points last season and is still developing as a player. A deal like that could be a steal as the cap limit rises in the next few seasons.

There is no way that the Blues could manage an extension for both Jordan Kyrou and Tkachuk, meaning that it seems like a forgone conclusion that Kyrou would be moved; it would be a miracle if the Blues could pull this off without giving up Kyrou.

Trade Proposal for the Flames

Even if the price is high, almost any scenario makes this worthwhile for the Blues. Calgary is looking to buy time before arbitration hearings begin on July 27 to find the trade offer for Tkachuk. The Flames are likely entering a roster retool, so they’ll want a franchise piece to build around, and St. Louis might have what they are looking for.

Matthew Tkachuk Calgary Flames
Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While the Blues are unlikely to move Vladimir Tarasenko in this case because of his no-trade clause, he could be moved in a separate deal to make the numbers work. This package may seem too high a price, but Tkachuk could be the next franchise cornerstone piece. This package here is heavy, but it costs a lot to acquire an elite young player, which Tkachuk clearly is.

St. Louis Blues ReceiveCalgary Flames Receive
LW Matthew TkachukRW Jordan Kyrou
D Marco Scandella (cap dump)
C Zachary Bolduc
2023 1st Round Pick
2024 3rd Round Pick

The Blues would essentially have to move a young star in Kyrou, one of their top two or three prospects in Zachary Bolduc, and two premium picks. Scandella has a modified no-trade clause, but it’s possible the Flames are an acceptable destination. Keep in mind that the Blues will likely trade Tarasenko in a separate deal to either the New Jersey Devils or New York Islanders.

The Blues lineup would certainly look a lot different if this trade were to push through. They have a solid core within their top-six, but their bottom-six becomes a bit more unknown. Some of the depth pieces that they brought in will play a major role, but keep in mind that Alexey Toropchenko will slide into the third line once he returns in December after shoulder surgery.

Matthew TkachukRobert ThomasPavel Buchnevich
Brandon SaadRyan O’ReillyBrayden Schenn
Jake NeighboursIvan BarbashevJosh Leivo
Nathan Walker/Logan BrownNoel AcciariMatthew Highmore

It’s a solid group, with two elite lines and a quality bottom-six. Though the roster might not look as strong if Tarasenko is traded, depth will not be an issue. They have a stable of high-level American Hockey League players that can come up and play on the fourth line if needed.

Don’t be surprised if the Devils make a play for Tkachuk, as there is a connection there as well (his father is a cousin of general manager Tom Fitzgerald). The Senators might also be a possibility to trade for Tkachuk, although their top-six seems set in stone, pairing up the two brothers could be intriguing.

All eyes will be on this situation over the next few weeks, and it would be considered a major disappointment if Armstrong can’t work his magic to push this deal through. I expect the Blues to be heavily involved. Could this be the reason they let Perron walk in the first week of free agency?

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