Islanders Would Be a Great Landing Spot for Matthew Tkachuk

Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames are headed for arbitration. This is the first step in him receiving a new contract for next season and with Johnny Gaudreau now on the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Flames have plenty of cap space for it. Arbitration takes the possibility of an offer sheet off the table but increases the likelihood that he signs a one-year contract to get to unrestricted free agency.

Despite this, the Flames do not seem willing to back the Brinks truck up and pay him. He has informed the Flames that he will not be signing a long-term extension, so they will now try and trade him to recoup assets (from ‘Matthew Tkachuk tells Flames he wont re-sign long term; trade likely: Sources’, The Athletic, 7/20/22). The New York Islanders should be at the top of the list of teams chomping at the bit to get Tkachuk in the door. After missing out on his teammate, the Isles might finally get the elite winger that Mathew Barzal has been without his entire career.

Would Tkachuk Fit With the Islanders?

The first question that you must ask when looking at a potential trade target is whether they would fit on the roster. Tkachuk is a left-handed shot who plays on the left side, just like Anders Lee, Anthony Beauvillier, Zach Parise, and Matt Martin on the Islanders’ roster. Making the move for him would most likely require moving out a roster player like Beauvillier, Josh Bailey, or Kyle Palmieri to clear cap space. A report from The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz states that Bailey is not being shopped, but if the return is Tkachuk, he should not be off the table.

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

There is no question about whether Tkachuk fits the Islanders’ needs. The 24-year-old is coming off his first 100-point season in the league, scoring 42 goals during the Flames’ fantastic regular season. His knack for scoring goals is needed to push the team over the top, but it would require quite the trade offer to get him.

What Would It Take to Get Tkachuk?

Here is the ultimate question, what would the Flames ask for? It starts with multiple first-round picks and probably Simon Holmstrom or William DuFour. The Islanders have no reason to walk away from any trade requests unless they involve Barzal, Oliver Wahlstrom, or Noah Dobson, though. The window for winning is right now and there is no reason to hold on to Holmstrom or any other prospect for any longer than you need to. There should be very few trade proposals from Calgary that the Islanders would decline.

Now, in terms of cap hit, that is where the Islanders might not be able to play with the other teams in the league. They were reportedly in on Gaudreau at around $10 million, so they are comfortable paying a top-notch forward a top-notch price. As I mentioned earlier, there would have to be supplementary moves to make everything fit, but there are players to trade. They can fit Tkachuk in cap-wise if there is another move to get one of the other contracts out.

Why Would a Trade Happen?

There aren’t a ton of teams that have both the cap space and the draft picks to acquire Tkachuk. His hometown St. Louis Blues have $625,000 left under the cap, the Florida-based teams do not have their 2023 first-rounders, the Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Ottawa Senators have already made their moves, and it is unlikely the Flames will trade him to another Western Conference team. Lou Lamoriello and the Islanders can absolutely fit Tkachuk under their salary cap and have the assets to acquire them. They are one of the few teams in the league who can say that and also claim that they are legitimate contenders heading into next season. On paper, there is no reason for this not to happen. He would be a fantastic consolation prize after losing his linemate to their division rival in Columbus.

Why Would a Trade Not Happen?

Islanders fans can skip this part, you already know why. Flames fans who might be reading this, come along for the ride. Because it never does. That is why it would not happen. Although a world-class winger at 24 years old is available and the Islanders have the ability to acquire him, they will find a way not to. That is the history of the Islanders, especially under Lamoriello. As such, fans on Twitter have already almost given up on this pipe dream. After being burned by John Tavares, Artemi Panarin, Mark Stone, and now Gaudreau, the Isles faithful do not want to picture a perennial All-Star next to Barzal. There is no real hockey reason why he should not be an Islander by the end of the week. The pessimism of Islanders fans would tell you that he will not land on Long Island, but reality shows that this is possible.

Tkachuk appears to be on his way out of Calgary and could be headed to the trade block within the next few days. The Islanders have not been able to acquire the big-ticket free agent in years, so they might be able to get the guy that elevates them to legitimate contenders through the trade market. He would need a new contract and could take a one-year, $9 million try-out deal where he re-signs long-term afterward. They also could go for the full seven-year deal right away, which would obviously be preferred from the team’s perspective.

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

The Eastern Conference has a lot of top-tier teams who are looking for revenge after last year in the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New York Rangers, and a lot of teams who are looking for the benefits from their offseason moves in the Blue Jackets, Senators and New Jersey Devils, along with many other contenders. The Islanders need a goalscorer, which they have not had in 40 years, to put themselves back into the conversation of potentially winning the Eastern Conference next season.

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