Devils Have Assets Needed to Acquire Matthew Tkachuk

As first reported by Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun, the New Jersey Devils made an offer to the Calgary Flames on July 7, day one of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, which involved Matthew Tkachuk. The trade was declined at the time by Brad Treliving who was in the belief he would re-sign both Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau to long-term deals. Since then, however, things have changed (from ‘Bruce Garrioch: INSIDER TRADING: The goalie carousel starts spinning with plenty of trade chatter’, Ottawa Sun, 07/07/22).

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Nearly a week ago, Gaudreau stunned the hockey world by electing to take his talents to Ohio and join the Columbus Blue Jackets. Whether related directly to that decision or not, it sounds now as though Tkachuk isn’t interested in signing long-term with the Flames, and according to Eric Francis, could be traded within the week. If that is indeed the case, Devils’ general manager Tom Fitzgerald needs to repursue the uber-talented 24-year-old.

Devils Possess Plenty of Young Talent

When mentioning that the Devils had made an offer to the Flames for Tkachuk on draft day, Garrioch wrote that the package included their second overall pick. Due to Treliving declining the offer, the Devils walked to the podium and selected defenceman Simon Nemec. Had Treliving known what was coming with his two superstar players, that trade very well may have been accepted.

Despite now having taken Nemec second-overall, that by no means rules out the Devils for going after Tkachuk once again, and they should absolutely be doing so. While Nemec is a very solid starting piece in an offer, he won’t be enough alone to land the Flames star. After all, he is coming off of a career-best 104-point campaign and is entering the prime of his career.

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

While Nemec wouldn’t be enough by himself to land Tkachuk, however, he would certainly be of interest to Treliving. The 18-year-old is coming off a very impressive season in Slovakia’s top league, where he had 26 points in 39 outings. He was also able to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics and didn’t look out of place whatsoever, despite his very young age. Safe to say, there is a reason he went second overall, and his potential is through the roof.

The good news for the Devils is that they have plenty of other young talent they could offer the Flames as well. One particularly interesting player on their current roster is Dawson Mercer, who is coming off of a rookie season at the age of 20 in which he had 17 goals and 42 points in 82 games. They also boast a number of intriguing prospects in names like Tyce Thompson, Nolan Foote and Shakir Mukhamadullin, just to name a few. Of course, they also have both Luke Hughes and Alexander Holtz in the pipeline, but both are likely viewed as untouchable by Devils management.

On top of that, there is also the option of draft picks for the upcoming 2023 Draft. As of now, they have both their first and second-round picks in that said draft, both of which could and likely would be of interest to the Flames. While giving up exciting players, prospects, and/or picks is never easy, the Devils are a team who needs to take the next step in their rebuilding process, something that has gone on for far too long.

Devils Have Ample Cap Space

If the Devils want to make this deal work, they have the cap space to do so. According to CapFriendly, they currently have just over $9.5 million in space. Granted, they still have three restricted free agents in Jesper Bratt, Jesper Boqvist and Miles Wood, who are all in need of new deals, but that still shouldn’t prevent them from making this deal, especially if they can ship a current roster player with a significant cap hit the other way.

Damon Severson New Jersey Devils
Damon Severson, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Two who could fit that role are Tomas Tatar and defenceman Damon Severson. Tatar has one season remaining on his deal at $4.5 million and has proven to be a solid secondary scorer throughout his career. Severson, on the other hand, is an underrated right-shot defenceman who has been involved in trade rumors for years now, and has just one season remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $4.17 million. While neither of these players may fit into the Flames’ long-term plans, they would likely have no issue bringing them in if it meant receiving other top-end players, prospects, and/or picks.

Tkachuk Looking for a Change

With Tkachuk having reportedly let the Flames know he is not interested in signing long-term with them, there are many who believe his desire is to play for a team south of the border. There have been several reports that the St. Louis Blues, a team who is said to have interest in him, is his number one destination, he would likely have no issue in joining a Devils team who will be on the rise over the next few seasons.

As for the Devils, this gives them a great scoring winger, which is something they greatly lacked this past season aside from Bratt. On top of his scoring abilities, his physical presence and leadership qualities make him both a great and unique talent, one that any team in the league would love to have on their roster. Acquiring him would not only make the Devils a better team right now, but for the foreseeable future, making it one that Fitzgerald needs to do his best to make happen.