Some quirks in Matthew Tkachuk’s new deal

The Flames and Matthew Tkachuk agreed on an entry-level contract earlier this week, making the 18-year-old St. Louis product part of the organization for several years.

But because of his age, when he was born and some quirks in the CBA, Tkachuk’s deal gives the Flames a huge amount of flexibility – in regards to the tiny possibility that he’s not a National Hockey League player for the balance of the 2016-17 season.

First thing to note, the CBA’s “slide rule.”

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The gist? If you sign at 18, your deal can slide twice (as long as you don’t play in 10+ NHL regular season and/or playoff games in a given year). If you sign at 19, it can slide once. And age in terms of the CBA slide rule refers to how old a player is on September 15. In Tkachuk’s case, he’ll be 18 on September 15 and he turns 19 in December.

His December birthday is important based on how the Canadian Hockey League determines ages. Since Tkachuk turns 19 before the end of this calendar year (he’s a 1997 birthday), the 2016-17 season is considered his “19 year old season.” But since he turns 20 next December, the 2017-18 season would be his 20-year-old (overage) year in the Ontario Hockey League, and he’d be eligible to join the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat for that season. And since under the CBA he’d be considered a 19-year-old player contractually, his deal would slide – unless he was playing in the NHL already – while he was playing in the AHL.

Long story short, Tkachuk’s age and birthday gives the Flames a ton of options with him. (It’s very similar to the situation 2013 first round pick Emile Poirier was in, since he too is a December birthday.)

  • For 2016-17, it’s either the NHL or the OHL for him. His contract runs if he plays 10+ games in the NHL.
  • For 2017-18, he’d be eligible to play in the NHL, the AHL or the OHL, and if his contract hadn’t already started to run from the season prior, his deal would slide if he was in the AHL or OHL.

That said, I’m reasonably sure the internal hope within the Flames organization is Tkachuk that makes the NHL roster out of camp. We’ll find out when Flames training camp kicks off in September.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    I like how you put in “tiny possibility.”Not being a dink here but I don’t think Tkachuk gets more than nine games. Ushl then 1 year Ohl . I don’t think he is ready yet.

  • FeyWest

    Honestly, barring a spectacular performance at Main Camp and his (Highly Likely) 9 game tryout in the Show I think the best place for Tkachuk is back in the OHL similar to Bennett, dominate being No.1 on the Knights.

    I’d prefer he makes the show but at the same time I don’t want to rush him if it’s not necessary, since I’ve been one to say Edmonton has rushed all their First Rounders. Although kudos to them and sending Draisaitl back I think it was good for him and he’s going to be stud unfortunately.

    • Parallex

      … There is no similar to Bennett. I’m fairly certain the 15 OHL games he played in the draft +1 basically accomplished not a whole heck of a lot. Bennett only went to the OHL because the NHL regular season was mostly over and he’d need a conditioning stint since he hadn’t played in a year anyways… so they hedged their bets on burning the first year of his ELC since playoffs were still pretty uncertain at that time.

      I agree that barring a great camp (and some power skating lessons in the interim would be nice to up his speed) he should go back to the OHL… but the club hasn’t yet demonstrated the ability to have the restraint to make that call with their top prospects. If I had to put out odds I’d say odds are that Tkachuk will probably have to play himself out of an NHL spot not into one.

      • FeyWest

        That’s true, thanks I don’t know why I thought Bennett played the whole season in the OHL… long day. Either way, I still think it would be best for him (and the team cap wise allowing for some more flexibility on signings in the future). I would also agree that if I were a betting man, I’d also put my chips on him sticking in the Bigs over them deciding to send him back. Although, I think it’s also likely given some of the open spots they may want to keep for some of the prospects in the A. We shall see how things has out in the coming months.

  • beloch

    It’s also worth noting that Tkachuk has played both wings, and the Flames don’t have a lot of depth on either wing right now. The Flames two top scoring wingers are currently Brouwer (43 pts in 82 games last season) and Frolik (Scored at a 41 pt pace last season, but missed some games). If Tkachuk lives up to his NHLE of 51.4, he would probably be the Flames’ #3 scoring forward, trailing only Monahan and Gaudreau.

    Tkachuk does need to show that his skating is NHL level and that he can play the defensive side of the game. He has a lot of work to do this summer and he needs to have a good camp in fall. However, his odds of making the NHL are pretty good. I honestly can’t wait to see him play with Bennett. Those two could form one of the team’s foundation pairs for many years to come.

  • cunning_linguist

    Selfishly, as a fan, I’d love to see Tkachuck make it, and if he blows the doors off in training camp, then by all means keep him around.
    Can’t help but feel though, that if he is borderline, it would be really good for him to go back and be the go-to-guy for the Knights. Give him his 9 games, then let him be the captain, let him carry that team without Marner and Dvorak, let him be a central role player for the world juniors…I don’t know, I guess I’ll be happy either way

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    A lot of posters commented after watching the recent Development camp that Tkachuk’s skating issues were greatly overblown and that is with him coming off a high ankle sprain. Last year The book on Alex Nylander was that he was a below average skater and after a summer of focusing on his skating it is now a strength. Monny’s skating is always best going into training camp after working on it in the summer.

    Here is why I think He could make the Flames out of Training camp. He seems highly determined similar to a player like Johnny who has had to work 10 times as hard as other players to stay on the radar screen. You just can’t teach this type of drive and determination. Not all high end players carry this drive. He will be training with Gary Roberts in the summer who we all know is among the best in his trade.

    The only way I see him making it is if he is with Johnny and Monny because of the similar styles they possess to his old linemates, Marner and Dvorak. On paper he would look good with Bennett but not to break into the league. Bennett is just learning how to be a NHL caliber Center.

    On the flip side, I could see Tkachuk not playing in the NHL this season due to the length of his previous season and the physical toll it has taken on him. The reality is that he has slightly more than 2 months before training camp which is not a lot of time to work his skating and his strength.

    But I would not bet against him

  • FireScorpion

    With Elliott and Johnson in front of that, and I’d probably say sprinkle in some Pribyl and Vey along the way the Flames look good for the playoffs. I’ll say it

    • freethe flames

      You are way more optimistic than I am. If you are playing both Engs and Wides playing in your top 6 then you are struggling to make the playoffs. Either of them in the top 4 is scary. You have put a lot of faith in players either having bounce back years(Chiasson, Bouma,Vey and Stajan) and young guys stepping up (Tkachuk, Ferland, Shinkaruk and Prybil). So much depends on huge ? marks and on how they respond to the new coaching staff and the systems GG. Way to early to be predicting the playoffs.

      I still think BT has to make at least one more major move before I an be as optimistic as you are.

      • FireScorpion

        Yeah I was in an optimistic mood which is odd for me. I am hopeful though. And yes Bouma needs a bounceback year, and Shinkaruk needs to step up, thats why they can play with Backlund. Everyone knows Backlund lifts those around him right? So he can have that.. Chiasson will be solid I think and Ferland he can figure it out on the 4th line.
        Ideally for sure Wideman will be gone but until than I thought I’d pencil him in. Wouldn’t mind seeing Jooris resigned as well as Nakladal. I agree I don’t want to see a lot of Vey but Prybil I am hopeful for as well once he gets healthy enough