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Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary has two main priorities between now and training camp

Brad Treliving has been a busy man this offseason. Starting in April, the Flames’ general manager has gone to work reshaping his team in one of the busiest summers in recent memory. With August underway, Treliving’s work isn’t done. A few important tasks remain with two of them still looming large for the long-term outlook of the organization.

EXTEND MATTHEW TKACHUK

Tkachuk’s contract status doesn’t impact the team immediately because he’s signed for next season. In saying that, it’s my belief getting Tkachuk’s extension done is Calgary’s number one priority, even with a year left on his entry-level deal.

From the team’s perspective, putting this to bed prior to the start of the season is in their best interest. Tkachuk has progressed rapidly in his first two seasons and is already one of the league’s most complete wingers. Because I don’t see that levelling off anytime soon, Tkachuk only stands to gain more leverage if this negotiation carries over into the season.

Tkachuk’s five-on-five totals are extremely impressive. Charted below are his aggregate totals through two NHL seasons and where he ranks amongst forwards (courtesy Corisca).

GP CF% Rank P60 Rank OZS%
144 56.6 3rd 1.88 81st 40.0

Since the start of the 2016-17 season, the only two forwards with superior shot rates to Tkachuk’s are a pair of Bruins: Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. That’s pretty elite company and speaks to how mature Tkachuk’s game is this early in his career.

To be up over 56% with a negative offensive zone start ratio is notable, especially considering the caliber of opposition Tkachuk faces on a nightly basis. And, despite a defensively slanted role, his five-on-five scoring sits in the top third of NHL forwards.

Now, you might be wondering why Tkachuk would be eager to sign a deal prior to the start of the season, which is fair. If it’s such a good bet he’ll only better his negotiating position, why would Tkachuk want to sign right away?

Well, here’s what I know: Tkachuk is eager to sign long-term, thus cementing his spot as a leader going forward. As such, I think a fair contract offer gets the job done, even before the season starts. We all know Treliving is as tough as they come when negotiating contracts internally, but taking a hard line with Tkachuk might not be the right call.

We’re talking about a true core piece here, so a max eight-year deal is the best case scenario. Can they keep the cap hit under the team’s rumoured $6.75 million internal cap? There’s a decent chance the answer to that question is yes, and even if it’s not, pay that man.

SIGN NOAH HANIFIN

Hanifin is the last pressing issue that absolutely has to be dealt with prior to the start of the season (no offence Hunter Shinkaruk). Calgary’s newest defenceman remains a restricted free agent and the type of contract he ends up signing is an interesting conversation to have.

As we laid out last month, there’s a good argument to be made for a shorter and cheaper bridge deal. In a lot of ways, we still don’t know what the Flames have in Hanifin. Despite improving in each of his three seasons, Hanifin has just one year of playing top four minutes.

There’s a strong chance he continues along the same positive development path for the next few years, but there are no guarantees. A shorter deal seems to make sense for both sides. It gives Hanifin the chance to improve and hit it big in two or three years. For Calgary, it’s a safe bet that carries little risk and allows them to get a better book on what Hanifin’s ceiling will end up being.

In saying that, I get the thinking on the other side. When Nashville signed Roman Josi to a seven-year, $28 million deal five years ago, he was just 23 years old with two NHL seasons under his belt. It’s safe to say the Predators made out like bandits. With two years left at $4 million per, Josi’s is one of the best value contracts in the league.

Regardless, the Flames have to get this deal done in the next month or so. Hanifin is clearly one of the team’s four best defencemen and he seems earmarked to partner Travis Hamonic, at least to start the season. There’s no reason to think Calgary won’t get this done, but that doesn’t change how high a priority it is.

  • Getpucksdeep

    Calgary has really good center depth right now. However at left wing with Gaudreau and now Tkachuk, I believe Calgary has the best 1-2 punch on the port side in the NHL.

  • Off the wall

    “Here’s what I know. Tkachuk is eager to sign long-term”

    Awesome, I think we need to get this done ASAP.
    Sign the young Byng for maximum term , bridge Hanifin.

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          I don’t get the hate on for Backlund. I am sure you have your reasons and this post won’t provide you with the ahaaa moment but here goes.
          Backlund was a late bloomer but has become one of the best 2 way players in the league. His skating is elite, he has one of the hardest shots on the team which has not always been the case. The improvements in this part of his game demonstrate how much he works on his game in the off season.

          He has become the team’s top defensive forward but he has so much more to offer. If you watch him in OT with Johnny there is magic. He is a more complete center than Monny but lacks the finish but would he lack the finish if he was Johnny’s center with favorable OZ starts and match ups. He has far too many dimensions to his game for this to be a bad contract. If you want to see how his game has evolved look at his International career where the Swedish national team showed him very little love…but now he is a key leader as demonstrated by his captaincy resulting in winning a gold medal at the WHC.

          Whether you want to admit it or not….. he is more than the by-product of being Tkachuk’s linemate. No matter how you slice it he is a huge asset to this team and the heir apparent to becoming the Assistant captain.

          • StajansFinalPaycheck 3.5

            Very well written. There are not an abundance of Backlund jerseys in the stands but this team is better with him than without him. Walters dislike for Backlund is huge but in my opinion unjustified.

      • The GREAT WW

        Nope; goaltending is next offseason.
        Even though I don’t think that Baby Byng will be anywhere as good as Byng, we need to get the Byng Brothers together…..

        WW

        • Off the wall

          Ok Walt, I’m in. But doesn’t Baby Byng need to make a decision soon? Like within the next two days?
          If Treliving can pull this off, it would be a miracle!

          • Cfan in Van

            I think an easier deal would be to wait until he decides. If he goes back to school, OTT sees the value of their pick dropping significantly due to chance of staying all 4 years, and Byng would probably want to sign long-term to extend the “Brother Years” in Calgary… I could be wrong, but I think the Sens would be gambling huge if they make a trade before the college decision is final.

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            I don’t see Brady waiting another 3 years playing NCAA. There is too much risk. The risk of injury, the risk of not excelling each year and seeing his stock drop. I know some players have been known to wait out the process to be UFA… but I don’t see it in this case. There could be some backdoor negotiations that are taking place under the guise that he will not sign with Ottawa….but 3 years seems like a long wait for players that have dreamed about playing in the NHL since they were kids.

        • Al Rain

          I remember when we had a Reinhart and I was keen for the Flames to collect all 3 of them. So at a gut level I understand the want, but other than the novelty is there any real good reason to have brothers on the same team? I get that Brady looks like a pretty sharp player, but other than that what’s the need?

          • Avalain

            Honestly, no. There isn’t really a good reason unless the brothers play like the Sedins. Personally, I am not convinced that Brady is worth what some people seem to be interested in trading for him. I get that Matt says that his brother is the stronger and meaner one, but looking at his actual stats I’d say that his hockey sense is nowhere near his brother. He’s not going to be Byng 2.0; he might be a Byng 0.5.

          • oilcanboyd

            Avalain, they won’t be playing like the Sedins for sure, more like Brent and Duane Sutter with the NY Islanders. Duane was on 4 Stanley Cup teams, while Brent joined the Islanders for their 4th Cup. Sedins zero Cups!

      • buts

        I agree OTW. Giving the backup job to Rittich or Gillies is a huge mistake at will cost what looks to be a great lineup a playoff run. Goaltending is thee most important position on the team.

  • JMK

    I’d have no issues with Tkachuk signing a $7.5m x 8 years. That’s not taking into account cap implications or what players might have their noses out of joint afterwards. Basically I want to see him given the max 8 years and whatever number he will sign for.

  • Rudy27

    Why I like a bridged deal for Hanifin… it motivates him to be the best and get a better long term deal in the future. We may pay more later if he becomes what we think he would. But that would be a better problem to have than pay too much now and find him to be a bust (at least from a expectations perspective).

    Two words concern me of paying too much too soon….Dion Phaneuf!

    • JoelOttosJock

      Yah..and then get PK Subban’d. Bridge is no good if he starts turning into what the Flames want and hope. Then that 6×8 years turns into a 4x2year to a 10+ x 8 years and penny pinching Tre and his internal cap cause trouble and the threat of him holding out or having to trade. Take care of your people,Noah the piper if you believe in him

  • Jobu

    Tre has clearly set the max cap hit at 6.75m. But that was set with the Gio and Gaudreau contracts 3 years ago.

    If you can get Tkachuk to sign that contract you do it without hesitation but I wouldn’t be surprised if his camp asks for more given the rise in cap space since then.

  • FLT

    To those talking about acquiring baby Tkachuk, it ain’t happening. I’d love to have him, but not at the price he would command – he’s a 4th overall pick just a few months ago.

    The suggestion that Stone + Bennett + gets anywhere close is ludicrous. Unless the last plus is a Valimaki or a couple future first round picks…which would also be ludicrous.

    • Cfan in Van

      If he goes back to school (and potentially stays 4 years), does his trade value not decrease significantly like Fox’s did? Not apples to apples in draft value, but a similar scenario.

        • Kevin R

          I have buddies that are adamant that they would never do a 1-1 deal for baby Byng & Bennett. I think Ottawa reached a bit too much at #4. What you are suggesting is way too high ask for a high ceiling player that hasnt played a pro game yet. I wouldnt give that package for Karlsson.
          Ottawa doesnt want much salary so Bennett & Kylington would be a pretty attractive package for baby Byng & I think we can afford that & would not want to give anymore than that.

          Keep in mind that if Bennett has a much better year, which many are hoping & expecting, he will also be looking for a Lindholm type of deal. Add Byngs new contract & Brad will be one busy guy next summer trying to get a goalie & Byng to fit under the cap. Moving Bennett + differs that extra strain on the cap next summer. My other concern is that I just dont see the room in the top 6 for Bennett & that is where we need him to play to see the progress we are hoping. So if we go through another year of lower 3rd line minutes & minimal PP time, 35-40 points is probably as good as we are going to see from him on a decent year. That will certainly cause his value to take a hit.

          For those asking why do we need a Brady? Answer is simple. Our window is just opening, guys that play with edge & have talent are the difference makers in the playoffs when refs let a lot more go. Tom Wilsons value from this years playoffs speak for them self.

          • Cfan in Van

            @FLT
            Maybe Bennett? Maybe our later 1st round in 2019? It certainly depends on how bad the Sens think they’re getting played by the Tkachuk camp, how highly the Flames value him, and how confident they feel that he would sign in Calgary after a few years.

          • FLT

            @Cfan in Van
            Yeah, our opinions differ there. There are still some reasons to be optimistic about Bennett, but I don’t think an Aug. 13 trade package with him as the centerpiece nets anything close to Brady. I don’t think even Bennett + Flames 2019 1st is close either.

            I’m sure crazier things have happened, but regardless of whether he goes back to school or not, selling Brady at a steep discount less than 2 months after picking him 4th overall would be extraordinarily poor asset management by the Sens.

  • Kevin R

    I think if you can get Byng for 8 years at 7.0 mill per, what a sweet deal!

    Hanifin Im in the sign long camp. Rumour was his side was asking for 6 years at 5.0 mill per, which is pretty close to what has been recently signed for young dmen. I would think Tre might get a 6 year deal in just under 5.0 per like he did with Lindholm. If he wants 5.5/per, I would insist on another 8 year deal & have a pair of matching 8’s with Byng & Noah. These are two players I see long term with our team & those deals will take them to 29 years of age.

    • Justeen Trudope

      I agree if they can sign Byng long term they may have to go over the 6.75 the only way it got done with Gaudreau was going shorter term and I don’t think either side will be interested in that. I am kind of hoping they give Noah a long term deal.
      I am a huge Frolik fan but hopefully Dube, Mangi, or Foo make him expendable and they will be able to get a decent return and open up some more cap space next offseason

  • Styxx

    I agree with WW and those willing to trade Bennett for Brady T.

    It’s been very tough to come around to this way of thinking as I’ve been a long-time supporter of Bennett and still believe he has not yet truly attained his potential. When he was drafted #4 I felt for sure the Oilers and Sabres had wrongly chosen ahead of us and that we got the best player, and looked for him to be a real offensive leader on the team over the last couple years. I still believe he can reach 45 points if playing with Backs this year and he can bring tenacity to whatever line he plays on.

    However Brady brings a big body, tenacity, soft hands and lives in the blue paint. Like with the Hanifin/Lindholm trade the Flames get younger (3 yrs) and extend the winning window, and defer higher salary costs.

    I like the following quote from ISS “Big body & isn’t afraid to use it. Plays all 200 feet of the rink & loves those dirty areas”

    Bottom line…I still like Bennett, but my head says WW/Everton et al are right…cut the deal with Ottawa after he declares he’s going to college. Ottawa will want Stone as an enticement to retain Mark next year so get a prospect or 3rd rounder in return which opens up the spot for Andersson as 3 RD.

    • Styxx

      So in summary: Brady Tkachuk & 2019 3rd Round for Bennett and Stone. If salary is a complicating issue for Ottawa then they could send Dzingel, Smith or Pageau.

        • Styxx

          Ottawa is imploding and needs players who can play now, not in 4 years time …and perhaps never if he refuses to sign.

          Bennett as a #4 overall is equitable with them giving up a #5 overall pick. Bennett can play right now in Ottawa as a top 6 forward, plus Stone can be a top 4 Dman there …this trade represents good value for them and helps stabilize their roster quickly. Mark Stone is signed for this year and Michael may assist in retaining Mark next year.

          The current Senators tire fire then quickly settles down to one issue…getting best value for Erik Karlsson.

          Overall …a good reasonable deal for Ottawa.

          • Squishin

            You have some good points, but I think Ottawa is going into a rebuild. I don’t think they will be looking for immediate help. Karlsson will get traded, I’m betting they trade Mark Stone too (or he’ll leave) and Cody Ceci is not going to stick around long-term for what they’re willing to give him. Duchene is reportedly not happy either. They will sell hard at the deadline.

            Rebuilding teams stock up on picks and prospects. Why would they give up one of their most promising prospects for a 3rd-pairing blueliner without much ability and a draft bust? Ottawa gets fleeced in that deal. Say what you want about Pierre Dorion, but he’s not stupid enough to give up the probable centrepiece of their rebuild for two things that most likely will not provide for their future.

          • LannyMac

            Overall …a good reasonable deal for Ottawa. Probably in your eyes only. I’m always amazed at how the junk on the flames roster becomes eye candy for other teams. Junk on the flames roster is junk on another teams roster. Yes that’s it all teams in the N are lining up to help the flames march to the cup.

  • mrroonie

    Hey Pat, how is re-signing Tkachuk number one priority over signing Hanifin? One absolutely must be done by training camp (we all saw how delaying the signing affected Johnny a couple of years ago), and the other is preferable to be done by then but won’t affect the player’s preparation for the upcoming season if it doesn’t happen. They’re definitely the top two priorities but I don’t understand why you feel the Tkachuk deal is higher priority.

  • Jagrrrrr, baby. Yeah.

    Do you give Hani more $$ than TJ? Can he be signed to a long term deal at $4.65M?

    I think Tre can be convinced to sign Big Byng to more $$ than Johnny or Monny, if it falls in line with the % increase in cap since those deals were signed. So maybe $7M, and go for as many years as you can get.
    I’m not going to hold my breath for it to happen in this off season though.

  • meat1

    If I was a GM and Calgary offered me any ONE player off their roster for my team to have over the course of the next eight years…I take Matthew Tkachuk. Forget about our internal cap etc, he needs to be signed now. If he has a monster year, he could be a 9+ million dollar player. To me his play seems to be sustainable and progressing. I doubt he has a down year (touch wood on injuries).

  • meat1

    Furthermore, regarding Baby Byng…I have been pushing for us to somehow get him since before the draft. I think he will become a premier power forward. I think the two Byng’s would push each other to greatness and drag everyone else along with them.

    • TurkeyLips

      Attaining Brady Tkachuk would take minimum a first round draft pick +. The success of his older brother makes baby byng considerably vslua for an unproven asset.

      Many of our futures are close to graduating and many more are needed. If Brady is targeted that makes our prospect pool close to dead last in the league.

      Thing is, these young gentlemen in question are hockey thoroughbreds. Theor father never took no $hit, and won’t sniff it off his sons for as long as he has a say.

      Ottawa will not trade Brady for a borderline bust in Bennett. The ask is one of Monahan, Gaudreau, or Lindholm and a first rounder. No chance he leaves for anything less.

  • meat1

    As much as we have fun speculating line combinations these days, I don’t suppose even Bill Peters knows exactly how they’ll shake down. But if we don’t get Byng signed this summer, and he ends up on a line with Monahan and let’s say James Neal…can you imagine how much money he might be worth in twelve months?

  • JeraldinChapparal

    Why trade assets for Brady, when there’s a chance he could simply join his brother in 4 years as a UFA? Similarly, why trade away Michael Stone, when there’s a great chance his brother might sign here as a UFA next July? Perhaps that’s the whole reason Mark Stone signed a 1 year contract with OTT. Imagine if the Flames had hung onto Rob Niedermayer instead of giving him away for nothing. Two seasons later Scott joined Rob as a UFA to fulfill their dream of winning a cup together.

    • FL?MES

      Why would Brady stay in school and lose millions of dollars in the process? It doesn’t make sense. I could understand if he was a lower round pick and needed more time to develop. He can always go back to school after his hockey career (which he probably won’t because his pockets will be full).

      This Brady thing is a pipe dream. There are also too many unknowns, one of them being if Brady is going to pan out or not. He’s over-rated and shouldn’t have been taken as high in the draft as he was. Its hard to put value on an unknown asset.

    • Baalzamon

      Similarly, why trade away Michael Stone, when there’s a great chance his brother might sign here as a UFA next July?

      There’s no chance of that happening. The Flames are going to use all their cap space for next season to extend Tkachuk and Bennet and have a goalie. Stone will command over 7 per, and the Flames just don’t have the cap space for that. Certainly not after signing Neal.

      • JeraldinChapparal

        If a UFA like Mark Stone says he’d like to play on your team with his brother can’t you make cap space by next July? SJ was up against the cap, but made room to potentially add Tavares through shrewd moves.

        • JeraldinChapparal

          It’s not like Calgary is the first choice for UFA’s. I think disregarding the brotherly love angle would be negligent, and Mark Stone will be one at an unusually young age.

          • C-of-Dread

            Mark Stone will become a UFA @ 27 years old. This isn’t unusual in any way other than the team didn’t manage the asset well. The very definition of an UFA is that they are either over 27 or have 7 years of pro hockey accumulated. Matthew Tkachuk on the other hand, could (under extremely avoidable, but certainly possible conditions)become an UFA at 23 if the Flames don’t handle him correctly. 23 would be an unusually young age.

          • JeraldinChapparal

            Maybe not unusually young, but most players of his caliber are resigned by their original teams and are not available at 27. I think he’d be a great add for nothing, and I’m hoping that’s his plan.

          • supra steve

            C-of-Dread
            By your definition, 18 (MT’s age at start of his NHL career) plus 7 years of pro hockey equals 25 years of age at first possible UFA opportunity.

          • Burnward

            That could change. Strong core signed through their prime. Beautiful city. Getting paid in US dollars in Canada.

            And the kicker for me as a Canadian, which would be my first priority: I get my family the hell out of America.

          • C-of-Dread

            There are exceptions to the rules. Like in this instance, where Tkachuk needs 2 more pro seasons to be Arbitration eligible. He has 1 year left on his contract. Next summer he COULD (likely won’t happen, but could) sign a 1 year deal so he’d have arbitration rights the following summer, at which point, he could opt for a 1 year contract that would leave him a UFA(like Stone is next year). At which point he would be 23. This most certainly would never happen, but still possible regardless. In an extreme scenario.

      • Baalzamon

        It really doesn’t though. In refuting the anti-Brady points it basically completely misses the point of said arguments.

        I’ll give you an example. It talks about Matthew and Brady’s USNTDP seasons and how people compare them and say Brady’s coming up short. The article refutes that by saying that Matthew played with better players. Which he did. But that misses the point of the argument. The point isn’t that Matthew had more points at the same age in the same league (or not only that) it’s that he stood out far more among far better players. To wit: Matthew Tkachuk was second in USNTDP scoring that year. Brady was fourth and had far worse competition. For frame of reference, Adam Fox was third in scoring when he played on that team. And he’s a defenseman.

  • super6646

    I’m gonna guess 5.35/7yrs. People overestimating what he is gonna get, and Backlund seems like a pretty good baseline considering he is a UFA while Tkachuk is an RFA right now.

    • Redleader

      Does anyone here really think TKACHUK won’t be atleast a point per game player? He will likely get at least 6-7 mill and that will still end up ? n like the best contact in the league

      • piscera.infada

        The Flames have a perennial point per game player, and he makes $6.75 million. That’s Tkachuk’s ceiling. I frankly don’t care what “Johnny doesn’t do well”, he’s the best player on the team, and somehow people still undervalue the things he has (without argument) done since he’s been in the league.

    • FL?MES

      In the context of his draft position. If you look at his stats was taken higher than he should have been. His draft position was buoyed by his older brother. If it wasn’t for MT there is no way he would have been picked so high.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I think Tkachuk’s concussion last year will have an impact on his willingness to sign a long term contract this year. As some of you may recall, his concussion was a result of a fluke play where a player slid into him away from the play taking out his feet. With all the after whistle scrimmages he gets into this is the play that hurt him.

    I am not sure what history Tkachuk has with concussions from junior hockey but my concern is he is a magnate for cheap shots both giving and taking. If he signs now he has the financial security every player wants. The flip side is that if he waits a year and is put with offensive linemates his numbers could soar.

  • everton fc

    The Sens need a goalie, they need to dump salary, and they need to maximize Karlsson’s value now. The Sens are in a good place with draft picks, after next summer. They lack a first, in 2019, but are stacked for 2020 & 2021.

    They also need to ice a team that can compete, or their fanbase – already dwindling – will continue to stay away from home games.

    Players we have that seem good fits for the Sens, in my opinion;

    Kulak. Bennett. Andersson. Kylington. One of Gillies/Rittich/Parsons. Maybe Stone, but only if the Sens move Karlsson and give Mark Stone what he wants.

    I’d not move Bennett for Brady Tkachuk. I’d love to see them on the same line! The Sens won’t take our Stone, unless we eat some cap. Kulak’s contract and potential are one of the better fits. Andersson’s another who fits the path the Sens need to be on, for the future, but we won’t be moving him. Kylington may also be a good fit, for the Sens…

    So… Would our 2019 1st and Kulak and Kylington, for Brady, a 3rd, and a prospect, get it done? (I, too, feel Brady was drafted too high…)

    • supra steve

      When did “I feel Brady was drafted too high” become a good reason to drastically under estimate his value to the Sens?
      Think about what it would have taken to pry Sam Bennett out of CGY in the summer of 2014. Would it have been more than a mid to late 2015 1st plus a 3rd pairing D man with upside plus a B level D prospect for Bennett plus a 3rd plus a prospect? Yes it would have been a lot more.
      I can’t tell you what Brady will amount to at the NHL level, but I will tell you his current value to OTT is a LOT higher than what you have proposed. They gave up a real chance of drafting in the top of next year’s draft to pick Brady in 2018, they have a lot invested in this player.

      • everton fc

        Good points. I guess I just don’t think Brady Tkachuk is worth Bennett. (Crazy that we felt Lazar was worth a 2nd). I don’t think Brady is worth what the Sens will be asking. But someone will probably think differently, if he goes back to school, and the Sens feel he may walk. We shall see.

        I simply hope we don’t give up on Bennett, just yet.

        • supra steve

          Bennett may end up being worth more than Brady, but 4 years into his career, I am still waiting for him to prove it…and I’m hoping he hasn’t already shown us his true final worth as a player. Currently, I would value Brady a lot higher than I do Bennett, if I were the GM in OTT.

      • Totally agree. They just drafted him at 4. That AND they chose to use their one first round pick on him forfeiting next years in the trade to col iirc. It’d take more than Bennett, decent prospect. The optics would be horrible for the OTT fans to trade their blue chip prospect for b or c package.

    • super6646

      “So… Would our 2019 1st and Kulak and Kylington, for Brady, a 3rd, and a prospect, get it done?”

      First off, I really don’t want to trade our 1st round pick. Secondly, no way the sens do this as Brady could be their best LW and they wouldn’t do that for what could be a meh 1st and a 3rd pairing D and a high risk prospect, and give extra pieces back.