How the Sebastian Aho offer sheet impacts Matthew Tkachuk’s new deal

On July 1, restricted free agent Sebastian Aho signed an offer sheet from the Montreal Canadiens. On Sunday, the Carolina Hurricanes matched the offer sheet and Aho is now locked in on a five year deal worth $8.454 million per season.

Now that the drama surrounding the signing has subsided the big question for other teams with RFAs to sign – like Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk – is how the Aho signing will set the market for young forwards.

A brief comparison

Aho, 21, is a left shot forward from Rauma, Finland. He played primarily center in 2018-19, but spent much of the prior two seasons on the wing. He has 83 goals and 197 points over 242 games, with seasons of 24, 29 and 30 goals.

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Tkachuk, 21, is a left shot forward from St. Louis, Missouri. He’s played exclusively on the wing over his three seasons. He has 71 goals and 174 points over 224 games, with seasons of 13, 24 and 34 goals.

A deeper dive

Over three seasons, Aho has played 3,433 minutes of five-on-five hockey – approximately 14.2 minutes per game. His Corsi For percentage is 54.99 (18th among all forwards with more than 1,000 minutes played) and 60.54% of his shifts begin in the offensive zone. His PDO is 1.006.

Aho has played primarily with Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal and a mixture of Jaccob Slavin, Justin Faulk and Brett Pesce. His five most frequent forward opponents are Sean Couturier, Anders Lee, Mats Zuccarello, Sidney Crosby and Josh Bailey, while his three most frequent defensive opponents are Ivan Provorov, Aaron Ekblad and Zach Werenski.

Tkachuk has played 2,945 minutes of five-on-five hockey – roughly 13.1 minutes per game. His Corsi For percentage is 56.76 (3rd among all forwards with more than 1,000 minutes played) and 48.97% of his shifts begin in the offensive zone. His PDO is 0.991.

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Tkachuk has played primarily with Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie. His five most frequent forward opponents are Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Joe Pavelski, while his three most frequent defensive opponents are Brent Burns, Cam Fowler and Brenden Dillon.

Aho has played more at even strength and has buried his chances more frequently – his on-ice shooting percentage is a full percentage point higher than Tkachuk’s. Tkachuk’s deployments have been rougher in terms of starting considerably more shifts in the defensive zone, but the quality of competition he’s faced is roughly similar to Aho’s and Tkachuk has had the benefit of playing with perpetual Selke contender Backlund and reigning Norris winner Giordano during his young career. Aho’s had a bit less to work with.

Setting the market

Centers tend to get paid more than wingers (due to their increased defensive responsibilities) and goal-scorers tend to get paid more than non-scorers. On a five year deal, Aho’s $8.454 million AAV would be downgraded a little bit because Tkachuk is exclusively a winger and then downgraded slightly more due to Aho having more showy offensive stats than Tkachuk.

A case can be made that Tkachuk is a better two-way player than Aho and has shown better possession stats with tougher deployments, which would bump up his value. But a case can also be made that Tkachuk has more help from effective two-way players on his team than Aho does.

If nothing else, Aho’s new deal sets a ceiling on what can reasonably be paid to Tkachuk over a five year period in the current marketplace. It would be extremely difficult to justify a deal that has Tkachuk’s cap hit north of $8.454 million. If nothing else, a five year deal would land somewhere around $8 million.

  • With Respect

    You can bet his camp will be asking for 8.5 minimum and more if it includes UFA years or this deal would be done already. Tre’s biggest challenge so far. The kid will not take any kind of hometown discount those days are over.

    • Ranchman

      I agree. It would appear that Tre has not been very successful in convincing the kid’s camp in taking less than market (because you can’t make more than a Norris Trophy winner and the leading scorer…). My guess is he’s talking to Marner for intel and waiting out the Flames to increase his leverage. If I had to bet, I’d say he’ll push management to the wall and sign after the start of camp at something north of $8.5 times 4.

  • buts

    He’s smart, can score, can play in the dirty areas. He’s a terrible skater that will rarely score on a line rush. Love him but he’s worth no more than 7 to 7.5

        • Bobby Bitman

          Not many. Stating that he is not a good skater does not mean he is not a good hockey player. It means he has a very important area to work on. If he cannot get quicker and faster, he will not be able to keep up, as he has shown in some instances. How much is he worth as a below average skater ?

          Maybe more importantly, say he signs for 8 or more. Demanding fans will be looking for results commensurate with that salary. Will he be able to deliver (including playoffs where slower players are exposed even more)? Those heavy boots better get faster if he wants big coin.

      • Budgie

        Tkachuk was a 2 point a game player in the OHL and Scouts said his skating was average but he was very effective-he came into the NHL quickly-2016 he was an OHL player-he transitioned quickly

  • fretsey

    I like Chucky but he’s not elite. Even 7mil seems high…6.5x3yrs then if he learns how to skate and becomes a 1st line Power Forward then we can talk really stupid money

    • Justthateasy

      Yes I like pay as you go. There’s enough of this pay now for half a decade in the future. Get paid for what you have done recently not for what you did years ago. It may cost more but those are the breaks. By the same token you won’t get caught holding a bag of Neal or Brower.

  • Loud_voices

    I think this is definitely a reasonable assessment.
    The flames will push to get him low. I thought Guadreau would easily get 8 at a discount when he signed and some how they were able to get him at 6.75. that blew my mind. I think they will aim to be the same as that but with inflation and market they might settle between 7-8. The only way he gets more than that is if someone produces and offer sheet and the flames match because I don’t think Chucky could hold out a whole year without signing. He wouldn’t want to and I think that would hurt his value if anything.

  • Herringchoker1971

    This was a great article. Everyone kept it pretty realistic and played in the same sand box. I agree that Tre will do his due diligence and try and keep the cap hit percentages the same as Johnny at least until the year Johnny’s current contract ends. I think he has to. The issue with that, is it will be a game of chicken with Chucky’s agents until mid summer. I just hope that Tre can free some cap so we can inject a little toughness into the lineup. I wouldn’t be shocked if Brodie doesn’t get traded. I’m sure Tre doesn’t really want to give him away as a complete cap dump. Same as Frolik. If we don’t trade them though we risk losing them for nothing. He’s in a tough spot.

    • freethe flames

      In order to meet the cap it is almost essential for one of FRolik or Brodie(Hamonic) to be moved. Both are still NHL players and if kept would help this team make the playoffs again. Of the two I think Frolik is the most easily replaced from within.(yes I know that Andersson is close if not ready to step up) but after that happens there is no proven depth on D. I like FRolik but as a 3rd liner not a second liner. As a 3rd liner it appears that Dube and Mangiapane are close to being able to play regular minutes there.

  • Budgie

    He will be the highest paid player on the team, if they can keep him at 7 million, I would say he is actually a 6 million with bonuses and a long term contract. Gadreau and Gio deserve to be paid the most, I would want Tkachuk under the 6,75 or tied for top paid player. Bennett and Rittich need contracts too, if Tkachuk gets upwards of 7 then it forces a trade or buy-out for Cap room to sign everyone-Frolik and Stone have been mentioned, Neal I don’t think anyone will touch-a journeyman Defenceman and quality forward could be moved. Brodie is wourth keeping, he shouldn’t be under-valued for a Salary Dump. Stone and Frolik are 6.7 million, could work to clear enough to sign Rittich and Bennett, that leaves 9 million for Tkachuk and Mangiapanne. Its close even with trades that are wishful thinking to this point

    • freethe flames

      There are no bonuses for 2nd contracts, only ELC and 35+ get bonuses. What he is likely to get is signing bonuses that count on the cap AAV. The rest of your statement is pretty much what I have stated several times. The only way you move TJ at this time is for a forward that will help you and maybe relieve a bit of the cap pressure.

      • Budgie

        No bonuses allowed, I didn’t realize that. Brodie ideally would go for draft picks, and a prospect-If Dube is in and Mangiapanne signed then it makes more sense to move one forward out, Frolik being the most mentioned. If Brodie is traded for a forward the forward would ideally be on a ELC. The Flames will be making a move soon, the RFA contracts are looming. Success in the NHL depends on having the ELC players on the roster contributing in order to make the Cap room for the big salaries-you could go with older players but the speed is needed to compete-Scouting is so important to find the NCAA gems and European gems like Rittich-You can only have a few 8 million contracts-Gadreau and Gio are good value as salaries get pushed up by the darn UFA signings. If someone sends Tkachuk an offer sheet at least it will likely be no greater than Aho’s.

  • HarveysFleaCollar

    8m + and deserves it. He is the 2nd best 200 foot forward on the team and will quickly pass Lindholm for first once he is not anchored by Backlund and Frolik. His skating is not as bad as some on here make it out to be, if his skating was as poor as what has been documented on here, he would be a career AHL player. Cannot compare his contract with gios or gaudreaus..different dynamics and different times and cap numbers when they were signed. Aho is a good measuring stick..although I’d pay Matty more, brings certain intangibles and also a physical aspect.

  • Jobu

    A bridge contract putting him at the team cap 6.75 until Gio and Johnny’s contracts expire in 3 years is the best way to go. Then the club can
    a) establish a new team cap, plus
    b) resign him to bigger dollars, or
    c) trade him for assets for a soft-rebuild (the window to win could very well be closed by that point)

    • Speed Kills

      Sounds good~! Lets just hope they don’t wait until Sept to get it done… This waiting is agonizing esp with other teams making improvements around us and the Flames sit idle and do nothing… Adding Talbot and losing Hath and depth Lazar is not going to push the Flames into the second round, Heck if everyone dosen’t match their breakout year last year the Flames might actually just be a bubble team and with the lack of push-back/grit/size/fight I’d bet they wouldn’t even make it next year. Yes I’m Worried~!

      • Albertabeef

        Mangiapane scored more in his 44 games than Lazar did in 64 games the previous season. His departure does not really hurt the team. Dube, Phillips, and Tuulola should fill the void quite easily. And don’t forget the Popsicle too.

    • KootenayFlamesFan

      Let’s be honest, we don’t have the cap space for Ferland. We need to get rid of brodie, frolic, or Stone ( or possibly even a combination of two of them) just to sign the guys we have. We’d have to get rid of all three with no salary coming back to afford Ferly – Not happening!

        • KootenayFlamesFan

          Don’t get me wrong, Ferland is one of my all time favorite flames and a line of Tkachuk, Bennett and Ferland would be a lot of fun, but I think we can do better long term.

          • The Iggy complex

            i agree kootaney. A little rich especially with his confusion issues last few years. Which unfortunately has effected good game and he does play softer now which effects good entire game

  • Trevy

    I guarantee you with Tre losing out on Ferland and the fact that he’s going to a rival, he’s going to go after someone like Maroon or McGinn for a little more toughness. Who could blame him though, we have just Benny and Hamonic and both are hardly ones that should be defending our stars. Again I say try and trade for Reaves

  • Man yells at cloud

    Alot of fine comments by alot of terrific flames fans. Let me start that Tkachuk is at the current time my favorite player in the NHL. I was ecstatic when he donned the number 19 as it fits right in with the other great Jerseys I have, Steve Yzeman, Joe Sakic, Jim Moxey to name a few…legendary players that have also worn this number. Is Tkchuck worth over $8 million, I say no. Tkchuck should hopefully come in around $7-7.5 which is still alot for a man with no wheels. These salaries are again getting g out of hand. Another lock out soon I fear. Now get off my lawn!

    • Kevin R

      I domt think what’s happening with the RFA escalating salary is a GM/league issue. Its the Players Assoc issue. They get their 50% of the revenue & they let the GM’s decide how thats going to be spread amongst the players. I see the Playes Assoc implementing a cap on RFA salaries otherwise there will be quite a rift within the players union. Now get out of my car!!!

  • Off the wall

    I just had a gander at Canucks Army. It seems like the Ferland signing has them bickering.
    Sounds familiar…

    Some are extremely happy, others are questioning why the heck Boeser wasn’t locked up first. They have $5M in Cap space and Boeser and Goldobin to sign as RFA’s.

    I’m happy for Ferland personally.
    He gets 4 years, and trade protection for the first two.

    Watch, the Canucks will probably make the playoffs this season.

    It seems like they have a surplus of forwards. I’m not sure what they’re going to do about that?

  • Off the wall

    I’m bored, Mrs Otw is watching Bachelorette again, so it’s story time folks. Just scroll if ya don’t wanna read it. It’s not like I’ll know.

    So, this Monday I worked for a woman who has a horse farm.
    I’ve been working there for years, but now it’s a regular thing, looking after her Landscape.

    Last year, she got this dog, his name is Brodie ( I’m not kidding)
    Well him and I have developed quite the friendship. He’s a terrier mix, stout and strong. When I’m cutting down trees, he helps me drag the branches onto a tarp. He’s only 25 -30 lbs, but gawd is that dog one strong sob. I’ve watched him carry a limb 3 inches in diameter and 10 feet long.

    When I take a rest, he comes with me to my truck and lies down, right beside it. I just love the lil’ bugger.

    Well this Monday, I was distracted. I had about 5 things on the go at the same time and didn’t have much time for him.
    I was getting into my truck to move it to another location and Brodie was incessantly barking at me. I had no idea what the hell he wanted and quite frankly I was too busy to get outta the truck to see. I started the truck and moved forward. I heard a big “ clunk” come from underneath the truck, as if my truck hit a speed bump. I got out to check and much to my dismay, I had run over my week old (expensive) hedge trimmer. It now looked like a banana. Perfect, now I’ll only be able to trim corners..

    I was so pissed off with myself. How could I be so stupid! As I kneeled beside the mangled equipment, Brodie came over and put his paw on me.

    “ You’re right pal, I should have got out to check on why you were barking” He cocked his head at an angle, as if to tell me,
    “ Don’t be looking at mez, I waz barking!”

    Again, he put his paws on me. It helped. He knows my habits already. He watches out for me, even following me outside the perimeter of the farm (even though he’s not allowed) to keep his eye on me. He’s such a good boy!

    What’s this got to do with hockey? Other than the dogs name, not much, although it’s fun calling him.
    I do believe dog is man’s best friend. I think hockey players should all have dogs. They have an uncanny ability to calm you when you’re upset and the affection they provide is sometimes better than having a wife, cuz they want nothing in return. Please don’t tell Mrs Otw that, I’ll be sleeping with them if ya do!

    It’s amazing how Brodie tried to warn me. I keep learning things about him every time I get to see him. He’s my protector when I’m there, and come to think of it, it’s exactly what our team needs.
    Not brute protection, but being able to feel safe while they’re playing the game we love to watch.

    I know Ferland is with the Canucks, however wouldn’t it be nice to have some protection for our stars?

    Perhaps, I can teach Brodie (the dog) to skate, cuz I’m sure he would protect our players. If he can carry a branch 2x heavier than him, I think we should sign him!