With that clinching business out of the way, let’s look forward to an offseason that will have tough decisions caused by a cap crunch. Sounds fun!
What team’s would be able to offer sheet Tkachuk? What number would we match, and what number would we walk from?
— Greg Ashby (@ashbygreg) March 17, 2019
I’d probably throw out all concerns about an offer sheet right off the bat. A team hasn’t attempted one since the Flames’ ill-fated attempt to pick up Ryan O’Reilly in 2013, and only two other offer sheets have been signed this decade. Teams have had the opportunities to pick up great players for reasonable amounts of money. NHL GMs are risk-averse and the prices to pay are pretty steep, so it’s a rarely used tactic.
But if you really needed that bit of extra stress, let’s work through this. What could a Matthew Tkachuk offer sheet look like?
Tkachuk is probably going to be somewhere in the $7-9M range, which takes out several teams right off the get go based on pick compensation, according to CapFriendly. A quick glance at cap situations, pending free agents, and some back of hand calculations whittles the list down to Carolina, Detroit, Florida, New Jersey, the Islanders, the Rangers, and Ottawa.
Detroit, New Jersey, the Rangers, and Ottawa are rebuilding and probably won’t fork over the high-end draft picks they have when their problems are larger than what one player could solve. The remaining teams could feasibly do it, but there’s also a number of high-end UFAs that could do the same job without additional costs. If they want to spend Tkachuk money, they can do so without forfeiting the picks.
The Flames will undoubtedly match an offer sheet should one pop up. I think the only number the team would walk from would be over $10M, mostly because it would be an impossible situation for them. If someone really wants to offer him $2M more than what the market says, they can forfeit the four first rounders that come with it.
(Also: Tkachuk has to accept the offer sheet, which I think would be unlikely for any of those teams. Why go from one of the best teams in the league to mediocre and below?)
Will C asks:
I think this is a legitimate question… With cap concerns next year, do the Flames consider a sell high scenario with Brodie to get some money off the books and to make way for Andersson, Kylington and Valimaki?
I think it’s a tempting thing to consider, especially given how well the Dougie Hamilton trade has worked out for Calgary. The Flames bet that Mark Giordano was good enough to thrive regardless of his partner, making Hamilton a fine piece to dangle for what they needed. Brad Treliving loves his draft day blockbusters. Perhaps lightning could strike twice.
But there are some differences between the Dougie trade and a potential TJ Brodie one. For one, the Flames don’t have the same glaring deficiencies as they did last summer. They desperately needed a bona fide top line RW and were willing to pay big for one. Now their top six is pretty solid (and if the Jason Zucker trade eventually materializes, even more so), their bottom six is functional, and they still haven’t seen the best from youths like Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube. The defence, as mentioned in the question, is also young and getting better.
I think management’s perspective will be that trading away a key asset like Brodie should net more than just draft picks and cap space. Yes, they need room to sign Tkachuk, but they are going to hesitate to throw away one of their top players to get it done. The team has an improvement-first mindset in place: if the trade doesn’t make the team better in the immediate future, why bother? The Flames are ready to win now. It’s harder to do that if they’re trading away players who helped get the team to that place.
The only position that could definitely use an upgrade is goaltending, but the team still might not go for it. They are already first in the West despite goaltending being an obvious problem since day one. Mike Smith has posted an .896 SV% in 36 games this year, how hard can it be to replace those performances for under Smith’s cap hit? Even if the team wanted to go all in on a goalie, which potential trade partners would trade a good, young goalie who can play a 1A/1B role for an expiring UFA defenceman that’s approaching 30?
The final thing that makes this a less than desirable proposition for the GM is replacing Brodie. One of the key contingencies to the Hamilton deal is that Calgary knew that they could go back to the Brodano pairing, which served them well in the Bob Hartley era. If Bill Peters’ blender is any indication, Rasmus Andersson will likely be the guy to play up with Giordano should Brodie disappear. That’s a lot of faith to put in a rookie, and especially a rookie who has only played ~180 minutes at 5v5 with Giordano. With Brodano, they had substantial evidence to believe it could work again, and it has. With Andersson, it’s almost entirely faith.
The Flames are probably going to make a sacrifice to the salary cap gods to pay Tkachuk and David Rittich, but Brodie might not be the one moved. There are other assets making more than they should that can hopefully be thrown onto the pyre to make those deals work.
Where do you think Brodie ends up this summer? Have this strange feeling he might get a new address in June
— The Magic Man #14 (@flamesfan419gm) March 18, 2019
If it should happen, I think New Jersey could be an interesting destination. They have defensive deficiencies, cap space, a few interesting prospects, and a load of top 100 picks that could make this work. St. Louis will move into their post-Jay Bouwmeester era, and do have a few cheap forwards to spare. The dream is to Nashville for Juuse Saros. I don’t think the Preds would want another defenceman on their already loaded defence for a cheap, young, and reliable backup. But it is just a dream, after all.
Why isn't Valimaki in the lineup?
— Jim Weckworth (@JWeckworth) March 17, 2019
Well, there’s a defensive logjam because that they can’t send anyone to the AHL, so Valimaki is probably staying in the AHL.
Which is fine. Oscar Fantenberg is holding down the 3LD spot perfectly fine, and Oliver Kylington could step up if needed. Valimaki has been doing just fine with Stockton for the time being. If the Flames don’t really need him, it’s probably best for him to get good minutes in the AHL.
Is Fatenberg actually good?
— Cameron Hilton (@cameron_hilton) March 17, 2019
Fantenberg’s been just fine, which is all the Flames need. It’s been seven games, but he has a 59.76% CF which is pretty good. Given his tenure in LA, I don’t think that lasts forever (both sub-50% CF seasons), but as long as he isn’t doing any noticeable damage he’s fine. He’s the Derek Ryan of defencemen: not going to make the decisive play, but he’s not going to make a bad one either. You can do much worse than Fantenberg.
If the Flames keep him around (2018 deadline acquisition Nick Shore didn’t stick around despite some decent hockey) he’s probably the 7D for next season. He can come in, play some minutes, and provide cover for injuries or players going through slumps. I can’t foresee him stealing a job or being a long-term piece, but I’m fine with him sticking around. He’s the cheap depth that helps teams win in the cap era He’s a more functional Dalton Prout.
Which team do you least want to match with in the first round?
— Stu Chell (@chooglechoogle) March 18, 2019
Vegas is a very scary team to run into if the Flames don’t clinch home ice. Mark Stone has helped their scoring woes (I had to double check when writing this – Alex Tuch is currently the leading scorer on a team with Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson), and the Knights are only starting to look better and better. They’re 8-2 in their last 10 and haven’t shown signs of slowing down. Also, the whole “haven’t won in Vegas” thing adds a superstitious edge to this.