Can the Flames fit Matthew Tkachuk and Noah Hanifin under the 2019-20 cap?

Friends, the Calgary Flames have some unfinished business remaining this summer but they’re largely done – and mostly fine, cap-wise, for 2018-19 due to the Troy Brouwer buyout. But their two big pieces of business will undoubtedly have big salary cap implications for the 2019-20 season.

Per comments from general manager Brad Treliving, Noah Hanifin’s amenable to a long-term deal. Per our pal Pat Steinberg, Matthew Tkachuk is in the same boat regarding his impending contract extension. Both are going to be pricey. The Flames are fine for this season’s cap, but can they fit everybody comfortably under the cap in 2019-20?

Fair value for Noah Hanifin

Hanifin is 21 years old and has completed his entry-level contract with 0.35 points per game (83 points in 239 games). There are four recent new contracts that featured players coming out of their entry-level deals. (Deals signed prior to this year are scaled based on percentage of the cap ceiling when they signed.)

  • Rangers D Brady Skjei, whose 0.38 points per game turned into six years and a $5.25 million AAV this summer
  • Hurricanes D Jaccob Slavin, whose 0.37 points per game turned into seven years and a $5.3 million AAV (signed in July 2017 with a year left on his deal) – scaled to $5.6 million under today’s cap
  • Ducks D Hampus Lindholm, whose 0.39 points per game turned into six years and a $5.25 million AAV (signed in October 2016) – scaled to $5.7 million under today’s cap
  • Sabres D Rasmus Ristolainen, whose 0.34 points per game turned into six years and a $5.4 million AAV (signed October 2016) – scaled to $5.9 million under today’s cap

Lindholm has played three fewer games on his first contract than Hanifin. His offensive output was slightly ahead of Hanifin’s, but in terms of his importance to the Ducks and Hanifin’s anticipated spot on Calgary’s blueline that’s arguably the best fit of the players mentioned here.

Based on the sample here, a long-term deal of between five and seven years would likely cost somewhere between $5.4 and $5.7 million.

Fair value for Matthew Tkachuk

Tkachuk is 20 years old and has played two years on his entry-level deal. He has 0.67 points per game (97 points in 144 games). There are five contracts – three external and two internal – that are likely effective comparable deals. (Deals signed prior to this year are scaled based on percentage of the cap ceiling when they signed.)

  • Red Wings F Dylan Larkin, whose 0.58 points per game turned into five years and a $6.1 million AAV
  • Jets F Nikolaj Ehlers, whose 0.66 points per game turned into seven years and a $6 million AAV (signed in October 2017 with a year left on his first deal) – scaled to $6.4 million under today’s cap
  • Bruins F David Pastrnak, whose 0.72 points per game turned into six years and a $6.66 million AAV (signed in September 2017) – scaled to $7.1 million under today’s cap
  • Flames F Johnny Gaudreau, whose 0.89 points per game turned into six years and a $6.75 million AAV (signed in October 2016) – scaled to $7.35 million under today’s cap
  • Flames F Sean Monahan, whose 0.67 points per game turned into seven years and a $6.375 million AAV (signed in August 2016) – scaled to $6.94 million under today’s cap

Wanna know why the Flames probably want to sign Tkachuk right away? Right now, the Ehlers deal is the perfect comparable and a $6.4 million cap hit – while hefty – is a pretty tidy number to work with. But if Tkachuk’s offensive numbers take a leap forward, and everybody who played on the 3M Line probably should’ve had better ones last year but didn’t get the bounces, it wouldn’t take much to push him into Pastrnak territory and a $7 million cap hit.

There’s also the issue of the team’s internal cap structure. Nobody on the team has a contract that pays them more than Gaudreau or Mark Giordano (at $6.75 million). There’s a reason for that: they’re the Flames’ two most important players and were back when they signed. For all the talk about external cap comparisons, it’s likely that a portion of the contractual conversation will include mentions of Tkachuk’s importance to the team – he’s likely going to end up as the Flames’ second or third most important forward (behind Gaudreau and perhaps Monahan) so he should probably be paid as such. The team’s willingness to pay him more than Gaudreau or Giordano may be limited.

A likely “external” comparable deal would pay Tkachuk somewhere around $6.8 million over a seven-year span. The Flames would probably likely that number to fall closer to $6.5 million over a similar term to fit within their current internal cap structure.

Tight cap space

Let’s make three quick assumptions to project out the Flames’ cap space for 2019-20.

  1. The cap rises to around $81 million, which would be one of the smaller year-over-year cap increases under the current system.
  2. Hanifin is signed for the mid-point of the general range ($5.65 million).
  3. Tkachuk is signed for the mid-point of the two ranges ($6.65 million).

Adding those two projected signings to the deals already inked for 2019-20 turns into the following general cap structure:

  • 1 goaltender (Jon Gillies) signed at $750,000
  • 5 defensemen (Giordano, Hanifin, TJ Brodie, Travis Hamonic and Michael Stone) signed at $24.41 million
  • 10 forwards (Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk, James Neal, Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Michael Frolik, Derek Ryan, Mark Jankowski and Austin Czarnik) signed at $46.08 million
  • Plus Troy Brouwer’s $1.5 million cap hit from the buyout

All told, that amounts to $72.74 million in cap commitments and $8.26 million in remaining cap space to sign a starting goaltender, two defensemen and four forwards. Expect the goaltender to eat up the majority of that space.

Sum it up

Signing Hanifin and Tkachuk to fair market value contracts long term is doable and can fit under next year’s projected cap. But it’ll be very tight, and it would probably force Treliving to move out some money – Stone, perhaps – to allow for some wiggle room during the season.

  • FL?MES

    Sign them both long-term as they will only get better (and more expensive) in the future. This will solidify a stable core of young players.

    Tkachuk for $6.75M could end up being a real steal…

      • Squishin

        @LannyMac I’m finding your comments more and more short-sighted.
        a) Tkachuk will be an RFA without arbitration rights, which almost always keeps the cost further down, as he is under team control without much leverage.
        b) He hasn’t cracked 50 points in a season yet (48 and 49), which for a forward isn’t worth 7 million right now.
        c) He doesn’t have any leadership responsibilities yet (he may at some point, but that will most likely not impact this contract).
        I am sure that he will not sign a contract before next summer if he’s smart. He’ll see what happens to his point totals playing in an actual top six and then go from there.

        • LannyMac

          Well thank you for your wisdom Squishy. Let’s take a look at my short sightedness.
          Let’s start with pt b) 49 pts over 68 games equates to 59 pts over 82 games. So 48 pts to 59? So let’s say he progresses half of that this year to 65 pts. Very conceivable with upgrades in the forwards this year. Question for you Squishy how much does a 65 pt guy get paid in the NHL. That’s right good answer at least 7 mil a year. I hope that explains my short sightedness.
          Pt. a) yes to a certain extent your right he is a restricted free agent but he can control his contract. Unless a gun is put to his head he does not have to sign on the dotted line unless the no. Work for him. Where do you think fan alliance is going to lie if he is not signed by the start of training camp next. Hint; not with Treliving. So wrong he does have leverage.
          Finally I would not be surprised if he is wearing an A if he does progress mid 60s in pts this year. He does not have to wear a letter to be the highest paid player. Show where management has said that.
          If I were him I would say pay me 7 AAV now or possibly pay me more next off season. How’s that for shortsightedness.

          • Squishin

            You’re still jumping the gun, unfortunately.
            b) You initially said “before this season starts.” Thus, your 65pt guess for his totals this coming year is irrelevant. As of right now, he hasn’t cracked 50 points, which is not worth a 7 million extension, regardless of fancy stats. Why would Treliving pay that much now before Byng actually accomplishes what that deal will be worth? Jumping the gun like that is precisely the thinking that landed Edmonton in cap trouble.
            a) In the extremely unlikely event that Tkachuk holds out and misses training camp or any regular-season games in 2019, I don’t think the fan base will side with him unilaterally, and Treliving is only doing his job by getting the best deal possible. So the leverage is minimal. Calgary has the depth to compete even with a holdout.
            c) I highly doubt he will wear an A this season, as that seems to be reserved for Backlund. Regardless of what we think here, he is still young, and this franchise is hesitant to ask too much leadership of young players.
            Hence. Your suggestion of at least 7 mil per year before this season starts is shortsighted.

          • Still no edit button?

            Unfortunately squishy you can’t argue contract talks with Oilers trolls. All they know is just throwing money at players and over paying them

          • cberg

            If he refuses to sign he will not be getting the majority of fan support. It does not matter who you are, this is a team game. Lots of people on this site seem to believe that:
            a. He has already proven himself and is Calgary’s best player, and
            b. Somehow because in an old contract system his dad wanted to get paid for results and held out once upon a time, that its inevitable Mathew will do the same….

            First off, its a different time with different rules. IF he proves his worth he will get paid, just like the rest of the Flames who all have pretty reasonable contracts for when they were signed. IF he gets selfish and puts himself before the team he should get pressure from the fans and deservedly so. I’m not expecting problems, and if he doesn’t get signed before this season I look forward to him making a massive jump. If only the Flames as a team can be so lucky.

  • Jobu

    If you can’t deal Stone, then your next likely trade candidate is Frolik. While hes still a valueable asset to the team (And Jobu hopes we keep him long term), hes also the oldest FWD outside of Neal and Ryan (who you just signed long term contracts for). Lindholm should be able to slot into that 3M RW spot making Frolik somewhat expendable.

    • Jagrrrrr, baby. Yeah.

      I figure Stone and Fro are the most likely candidates to be traded during the season, probably to a team(s) that has had injuries but is still looking to make the playoffs.

    • Korcan

      Valimaki will most likely be ready for the NHL next season, and Andersson should be a regular by the end of this season, so unless he hits it out of the park playing with Gio again, i can see Brodie being another player potentially being moved out in addition to Stone. Those two contracts clear out a lot of cap space.

      • TKO

        “Valimaki will most likely be ready for the NHL next season”

        if you ask me, that is a little optimistic. Rather have him develop through some time in the AHL instead of playing 3rd pairing minutes and losing his confidence in the NHL.

      • Jagrrrrr, baby. Yeah.

        If he plays with Calgary, he’ll be eligible for the expansion draft. If he stays in Stockton, he isn’t and won’t have to be protected. I doubt he gets more than 9 games with the big club.

        • Cfan in Van

          I agree with that. I think unless he’s absolutely blowing the doors off, he’ll probably get his 9 games and down to Stockton with him. Prudent move for the future, and we have a competent D crew for this season.

    • Jeremy

      To me the next best person to move is Backlund`.
      He gives a real return and Jankowski will be a 3rd year pro by then. He’d better be capable of 3rd line minutes by then if not second.
      Finally then there’s a spot to be made for Dube in the ’19 season.

  • Denscafon

    If going by the Gio/Gaudreau internal cap mentality, I would say Tkachuk’s importance is around the same as monahan so i would love to see Tkachuk get the same deal as money (6.375 for 7 years). As for hanifin, I would agree that a deal under 5.5 mill at 6 years would be great. If that is the case though, something has to budge. A trade/buyout for stone is the most logical choice at the trade deadline or offseason next year. That probably isn’t enough still and i’m guessing Frolik will be the odd man out and get traded as well

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Agree with all the comments so far but if a shorter and cheaper deal (say 4.8M AAV) for Hanifin can be done, I say maybe that is best. Perhaps he hit his ceiling but hope not

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Another last resort scenario is a Mike Stone buyout next off-season to lower cap hit to 1,166,167 for 2019-20 but also on books for same amount year after

      • First Name Unidentified

        This is the “grass is greener” scenario with a lot of folks on this board. Stone can easily slide into #4 in case of an injury, plays low key, and provides a ton of depth. I can’t imagine Tre doesn’t want to see him utilized by Billy P. He can turn into a trade asset by deadline if Billy uses him properly. Stone has a bomb for a shot. The shiny new toys (Juuso, Ras) haven’t been eased into the shark infested waters yet.

        • HAL MacInnis

          Totally agree, First Name. We need to take our time with Andersson and Valimaki. Some players thrive being thrown into the deep end (Tkachuk) and some almost drown (Bennett). Jankowski was the right way to do things.

          Stone is still an important piece to the team. People are assuming that Brodie will easily return to form with Giordano at his side. I hope he does, but assuming so and assuming Valimaki and Andersson are ready is a huge gamble.

          I think Stone will get a chance to shine under Peters. We need a defenceman with a slapshot that can clear a crowd… like some other guy that used to play for the Flames. 😉

      • HOCKEY83

        I agree. I find it odd that fans want to give up Stone for a crappy pick and retained salary. Regardless of any of it though they will do what they have to do to sign Tkachuk. I’m sure they’re not concerned at all.

        • Jobu

          For the record Jobu doesn’t want to deal him either. He was only stating that a deal is better than a buyout, if necessary.

          Stone has a lot of value as a 4/5 defenseman and may thrive under Peters.

  • SeanCharles

    – Hanifin’s cap hit should be less than speculated above
    -Tkachuk’s max will be 6.75
    – If space is needed Stone and/or Frolik will be moved to accommodate

    We are in good shape with the cap. As long as Neal, Ryan, Gio and Backlund don’t hit a wall due to age we will be fine.

    I’m most worried about Neal in 3 years time but wont worry about what could happen until it actually does.

    • HOCKEY83

      Gio will be 35 when the season starts. I worry he will decline faster than anyone else. His 6.7 mil is more of a concern going into years 36 to 38. If there’s a trade out there that could involve him before it’s to late that would be the best idea.

      • deantheraven

        See? It’s that easy.
        Seriously, TOR would take him at the deadline. But moving Gio means replacing him, ideally internally, and that could happen this year, or not…
        It’s worth mentioning that Tre and Rebar are focusing on chemistry, and looking for leadership. Maybe a new leadership is going to take shape in the room this year. There are a few young leaders in the core, and Neal and Ryan may be bringing some, too.
        A lot of numbers that could have letters (or new ones) next to them, maybe even a ‘C’.

        • HOCKEY83

          Being a hard core fan of the Flames for 38 years I’ve seen a lot of favorite players come and go. The hardest for me was Fleury…all time favorite flame hands down…It’s the nature of the game. Paying Gio 6.7 mil until he’s 38 years old is a mistake not matter how much of a fan favorite he is. He’s one of my favorites but I understand that salary has to go sooner rather than later. Not trying to get anyone’s ire up just being realistic. It’s a reasonable way to get more cap space for signing Tkachuk.

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            Maybe wait until Gio starts to actually decline. Check out my analysis on the Ruzicka article. Gio is probably still the best defender in the pacific division. Ride that horse until the horse actually looks tired! What if he ages well and is a useful defender for the life of the contract? He could set many more franchise records!

            Much rather explore moving Stone and/or Hamonic. That being said… I would explore something at the first sign of a Gio decline.

          • C-of-Dread

            That explains why the Oilers traded Gretzky. After putting up 205 pts in (83-84), 208 pts in (84-85), and 215 pts in (85-86), he was then in obvious decline with 183 pts in (86-87), then he missed 18 games in (87-88) and only put up 149 pts. For he was then traded to LA and put up 168, 142, 163, 121n then 65 in 45 games and another 130.

            Obviously Gio isn’t Gretzky, but when you talk about a player in decline, it has to be considered with relevance to other players in that position.

            Gretzky was obviously in decline from his prime years so he wasn’t going to be at HIS same level, but he was still the best player in the league for 5 or 6 years after he started to come back to the same mortal level as others.

            Mark Giordano already plays at an extremely high level. His age dictates that there will be decline in his level of play, but we have to still compare Gio in his decline versus those who could replace him. If he still exceed the level of any replacement player, there’s no reason to move him simply because he isn’t at HIS previous higher level.

            I do believe a Gio trade may need to be considered in the last year of his deal but that’s 4 years away, let’s leave it there for now.

          • WidemansAnger

            It can happen it’s a dream deal compared to Shea Webber or Phaneuf… Gio is way more attractive then those players. He is always #1 in fitness when they come into training camp, let’s see how he looks this year…

    • The Fall

      Gio and Neal’s contracts are timed well for a compliance buy-out pre expansion draft.

      “Any player receiving a compliance buyout receives two-thirds of the remaining contract across twice the remaining term of the deal, but his salary-cap charge to the team is wiped clean. The bought-out players are granted unrestricted free agency and are eligible to sign with any team, other than the one which bought out the player.”

      • Heeeeeere's Johnny!

        I don’t believe we protect Gio in any event. At his age and hit I would guess that Seattle will think about other directions … younger, faster, cheaper, etc.

        • SouthernFlame

          This expansion draft is a serious wrench thrown in the gears. Even if Gio doesn’t decline do we protect him? I assume the management of the Seattle team knows that we have good D depth I’m sure they will be looking at our roster? Does Tre assume this and let Gio go? I’m not saying that I want him gone just thinking of the business side. It would free up cap space right? And with upcoming talent what happens? Especially if our goalie situation becomes bad.

          • Cfan in Van

            Luckily, they don’t need to make that decision right now. They have a couple seasons to see how Gio holds up. I will be a difficult decision regardless, but they should have a better idea of the best move at that point.

  • RedMile

    Tkachuk will definitely be getting more than 7M making the cap situation pretty tight. I assume Stone will be traded out next summer with all the younger defensive prospects looking NHL ready.

  • deantheraven

    Both of these young men will provide value comparable to their, um, comparables. Pay them now, save later.
    As for the dollar space needed, contracts will move this year. Stone, Brodie and Frolik have the biggest hits of anyone worth moving for cap space All of them will be playing elsewhere in 2019-20, and the expectation is that there are more than enough bodies ready to fill their spots.The gamble is on the prospects earning and keeping the vacated roster spots, for at least a couple years at low cap hits. This should be a very interesting camp…

    • FL?MES

      So if Brodie rebounds and has a great year, would you still trade him? If you did he would need to be replaced and Tre would have to go shopping because we don’t have a player waiting in the wings to take his spot. Brodie has a good cap hit and Tre would have to open up his wallet for a replacement.

      • supra steve

        If Brodie has a great season…is it because of TJ, or is it his partner? A lot of variables, but next summer COULD be the time to dangle TJ as a trade chip, if he has a good season.

  • supra steve

    Here’s another comparable.
    Tom Wilson 0.32PPG, $5.166 million X 6 seasons. Tom’s not getting paid exclusively on his PPG stats, and neither will Tkachuk. If Tre can get this long term contract signed for less than $7 million, he’s a witch.

      • supra steve

        Wilson’s not getting paid to score, he’s getting paid to impact the game and to help the Caps win. I’d say he did that job well in 2017/18. If he continues to impact his club that same way in the future, then he will not be overpaid.

    • Hockeysense9393

      Tom Wilson’s contract doesn’t make any sense, where BT tends to make sense most of the time. I would think no agent would be able to use Wilson’s contract as an example.

    • Hockeysense9393

      Thing is, young players like Gaudreau, Monahan, and Tkachuk know that this isn’t their big scoring contracts. Of course they want to get what’s fair for themselves, but they are young enough and good enough to cash that in on the next deal. These types of players seem to want to be fair when it comes to their team…so a fair deal for both sides looks to be more attainable. Maybe less term like 6 years as apposed to 8 years, but BT seems to find that sweet spot. Is a player like Draisaddle going to get paid 12 mil on his next contract? I would hope not. But I can see Tkachuk getting paid 9-10 mil his next deal, so he may not be so hell bent on big bucks now. These guys know that this isn’t their big cash in, so I don’t think that the salary is the fight as apposed to term. I think BT has a salary pretty much set and negotiations are just about how long the player wants to commit to the team.

        • Hockeysense9393

          I would think that he is that type of player that may give a little as should the team as well…for winning now. He will have a big contract coming in the next 5-6 years, as I predict that being the term for this next one. I think both camps may have a number in mind, but term will be the key. It should be under the “internal cap” but may only be 5 years. Or what if he even signed for 4 years. Then his salary would be most likely under 6 mil?

    • HAL MacInnis

      If Tre can get this long term contract signed for less than $7 million, he’s a witch.

      Would we have to burn him if he weighs as much as a duck though?

  • Jagrrrrr, baby. Yeah.

    The one thing Tre has been consistently good at is player extensions. He always gets good value.
    I can see Byng getting a contract for the same % of cap as Sean did when he signed – don’t know if that # is more or less than $7M.
    I can see Hani getting $5.25M for a long term deal.

  • dewtel

    No question, I sign Tkachuk for Monahan $’s up to Gaudreau $’s long term 7 or 8 years (depending on term length). Hanifin $’s should be around $5.25 for 7 or 8. I hope Tre can get this done soon.
    I wouldn’t worry about next years cap now. Suffice to say there are many options for 2019/20 but I see of our prospects forcing you to play them, maybe as early this preseason.
    The incumbent(s) they replace will like solve next years cap problem, perhaps the goaltender situation to boot. The CBA extension and Seattle expansion will also play a huge factor on who is kept.

    • Jagrrrrr, baby. Yeah.

      Seattle! Tre will want to keep a couple of guys around to leave open for that. Stone, Frolik, Hamonic, Brodie, and guys like Czarnik and Lazar.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    If Larkin, Ehlers and Pasternak are not driving the offence, which they do very well for such young players, they are essentially doing the pooch. Chucky’s name might be absent from the scoring summary, but you know he did a lot of less glamorous and notable stuff that aided his team’s cause. Chucky’s stinky glove in the mug of an opponent leads to a retaliation penalty and as Chucky is on the bench swigging Gatorade, the Flames score. No points for Chucky but pp advantage all on Chucky.

    Chucky is one of the most complete players to ever wear a Flames uniform and it is his completeness that makes it so hard to find suitable contract comparables. I do think that Chucky will break the bank and have the highest AAV when he signs his first real contract. He’s $5.5M AAV just for points alone. Could be higher if he had played with more offensively-talented linemates. The $1.5M that is added to the $5.5M is for all the extras he gives the club, and $1.5M a year for that would be a veritable bargain!

  • Greg

    $72M with all of your top 9 and top 4 already accounted for? Plus good cheap spares on the way, and easy-to-shed options (e.g. Stone)? And most of the key pieces are under 25? Assuming this team is in a solid playoff spot this year, that’s a pretty good cap situation that most GMs would be jealous of. Even with that gaping hole in net.

  • MDG1600

    Another wild card is Bennett because he is also an RFA next year. If he has a breakout year (50/50 chance imho) the Flames will definitely be in a Cap bind. At the same time if Sam breaks out it probably makes Frolik expendable.

  • C-of-Dread

    Most important signing so far this summer for the Flames was Tkachuk; Brady Tkachuk! Thank God he signed with Ottawa. Now we can stop reading asinine posts like
    “He’ll never sign with the Sens”
    “Bennett, Kylington, and Stone for Baby Byng, book it”
    “Can’t wait for Sens to realize Brady wants to play with Matty, get it done Tre!”
    “Brady Tkachuk will never play in Ottawa”

    Certainly there will be any number of new trade ideas, but maybe we’ll see less mind readers now.

  • Dougiefred

    Treliving not known for signing these guys until after entry level deal has expired i.e. Monahan and Gaudreau. Is there any reason to expect any different with Tkachuk?
    Believe Hanifin ELC has expired thus a new contact required ASAP

  • BringtheFire 2.O

    Hot off the wire! Sens are now pushing hard for Matthew Tkachuk. Karlsson rumored to be key piece being offered in return. BTF say no thank you sir.

  • Vinnsanity12

    Tre said the ‘internal cap’ is a fallacy, and be thankful that Matt played with Backlund and Frolik, if he had real linemates he would have had 80 points.