Canucks Should Avoid Getting Into the Tkachuk Sweepstakes

The Vancouver Canucks and Matthew Tkachuk have been linked all the way back to the 2016 NHL Draft when fans were expecting to see him don the Orca at fifth overall. Instead, then-general manager (GM) Jim Benning selected Olli Juolevi who has since gone on to be traded to the Florida Panthers and claimed off waivers by the Detroit Red Wings. His ceiling is currently that of a bottom-pair defenceman while Tkachuk has become a superstar top-line power forward for the Calgary Flames, who ended up snagging him with the next pick.

Related: 3 Canucks Poised for Bigger Roles in 2022-23

Now, after posting his first 100-point season in the NHL and 152 goals and 382 points in 431 career games, Tkachuk appears to be on his way out of Calgary. Reportedly indicating to the Flames on Wednesday that he would be unwilling to sign a long-term extension either before or after his arbitration hearing, GM Brad Treliving could be forced to move him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent (from ‘Matthew Tkachuk tells Flames he won’t re-sign long-term; trade likely: Sources’, The Athletic, 7/20/22).

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

Whenever a player like Tkachuk becomes available on the trade market, all 31 teams have to stand up and take notice – even when it seems impossible to acquire him. That’s exactly where the Canucks probably are right now, taking stock of the situation, but ultimately deciding not to pursue it. As such, here are just a few reasons why they shouldn’t go beyond the “kicking tires” stage of potentially righting a wrong and adding the Scottsdale native to their roster six years after they should have drafted him.

Tkachuk Will Cost Too Much To Acquire

While it would be amazing to add the power forward package of Tkachuk alongside Elias Pettersson, the Canucks would have to give up way too much to acquire him. Even judging by the low return the Chicago Blackhawks got for Alex DeBrincat, the price just ends up being too high. Considering the 2023 Draft is projected to be one of the strongest in recent memory, Allvin would do well not to give up any of his high picks – even if it’s for a player like Tkachuk.

Related: Flames Filing for Arbitration with Tkachuk is a Very Bad Sign

The Canucks don’t necessarily have the strongest pool of prospects and players to draw from either, as the Flames would likely want one of J.T. Miller, Bo Horvat, Vasily Podkolzin, Nils Hoglander, Jack Rathbone or even a top prospect like Danila Klimovich or recently drafted Jonathan Lekkerimaki in return (which would be a non-starter, by the way). In the end, the cost just would be too high for a player that may or may not fit in with the current lineup and culture the new front office is trying to build in Vancouver.

Canucks Would Have to Choose Between Miller & Tkachuk

Yes, Tkachuk is way younger than Miller, but the Canucks already know that he fits in with the current structure and culture of the team. If they were to acquire the former, they would inevitably have to part with the latter. Maybe even in the same trade, especially if the Flames wish to recoup a roster player that could potentially fill the void left by Tkachuk. Of all the forwards the Canucks have – that they would be willing to trade – Miller is really the only one that fits that criteria.

J.T. Miller Vancouver Canucks
J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Some might say that not only does Tkachuk represent the better fit for the future at 24 years old, but that he could also elevate Pettersson’s game to the next level, just like he did with Johnny Gaudreau. While that may be true, there’s no guarantee that he will fit seamlessly with the locker room’s leadership structure. Having said that, he might be the exact type of leader Jim Rutherford could be looking for if the reports from Nick Kypreos are true that he doesn’t like the makeup of the room right now. But that’s a discussion for a different article.

Tkachuk’s Contract Could Be Trouble Down the Road

Assuming Tkachuk wants a long-term contract wherever he ends up, the term and average annual value (AAV) are sure to be on the high side. Like, say the realm of $9-10 million over seven years? If that’s the case, the Canucks would regret it in the future when they are back in the conundrum of re-signing Pettersson in 2024-25 (something that took way too long to negotiate this past summer). Basically, they would be in the same situation the Flames were facing with Gaudreau and Tkachuk, except with two restricted free agents in Pettersson and Podkolzin.

Elias Pettersson Vancouver Canucks
Tkachuk’s contract could add more headaches to any Elias Pettersson negotiations down the road (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Canucks also have to factor in the cost of a pending Horvat extension, which will likely come in around $8 million when all is said and done. Basically, trading for and extending Tkachuk on a long-term deal would just create too many headaches with the salary cap down the road. And for the record, I feel the same way about a Miller extension for anything north of five years.

Flames Probably Won’t Trade Tkachuk Within the Pacific Division Anyway

In the end, this could all be a moot point as Treliving will likely avoid trading Tkachuk to a team in the Pacific Division where he could wreak havoc on his former squad. Also, there’s no guarantee that he would want to sign long-term with the Canucks, as rumors indicate that American teams are his preference when it comes to playing out his prime years.

All in all, while adding a player of Tkachuk’s caliber is a nice thought, it just doesn’t make sense with the current makeup of the team right now, both in salary and overall fit. Couple that with the improbable nature of the Flames actually accepting any offer involving a division rival, and writers have something interesting to discuss but never write an actual news piece about.

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