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.

  • Flaming moe

    The biggest hurdle i see for tre is Keith Tkachuk. He will be a bull just like Mitch marners dad. They know there respective teams are not as good without there sons in the lineup. I see the flames saying no more than 8.25 per. I can see Keith wanting his son for over 9.00. Will be interesting.

  • 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.

  • Man yells at cloud

    This right here was one of the best articles on this site in a long time. The Aho contract is a benchmark that is a perfect ceiling of what Tkachuk gets. Duchene at $8 and Aho at $8.45 means Tkachuk should fall in the $7-$7.5 range. Internal cap aside this is what the market dictates. Great work Mr. Pike!
    Now get off my lawn!

    • LannyMac

      Excellent comment never thought of that it will be interesting to see if his skating can keep up as the years progress. Every year the new kids seem to raise the bar. Poor Lucic looks like a chevette in an Indy race.

      • Albertabeef

        Indy race no, but you have not lived life to the fullest if you haven’t seen a Chevette blow the doors off a Mustang or Corvette lol. 30 years ago I was on my way home from school and by buddy leans over and says “hey, wanna see something funny?” As he looks to the left to see a new mustang and revs his engine. The other driver gave us a look like “are you serious Mr Chevette driver?” but responded with laugh and a rev. The light changed and as we were pulling away all I could do was laugh hysterically! Never underestimate the Chevette lol.

  • Raffydog

    I dont understand the love affair with Tkachuk. The team is loaded with players that cant handle the playoffs, Tkachuk being one of them, and everybody wants to give him upwards of 8 million a year to disappear in the playoffs. It’s this type of reasoning why this team is nowhere close to winning a cup. They reward apathy, laziness, and just dont give a crap, with multi million dollar deals.

  • Sea of Redd

    I can’t help but think about how much better the cap situation would be without Neal’s contract on the books. He’s not as old as Marleau, so maybe it would only take a B Prospect of 2nd rounder to ship him off?

  • 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.

  • 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!!!

  • FloridaFlamesFan

    I think Tre should think hard about this. Two or more 35-40 point players can be had for his one contract. Is Tkachuk really all-star money? How many almost all-stars can a team pay and still be at all competitive? I’m also not against Tkachuk, I like him, but this is a business and “like” leads to cap crunches.

  • CowboyBob

    I like Tkachuk, he is important to this team in the future, however I have massive concerns with his skating. If this doesn’t improve quickly I think he will be a quickly declining asset as poor skaters top out earlier and decline more quickly. I don’t think you want to sign MT to long term. At this point Aho>MT

    • Luter 1

      I said the same thing and I got 80% trashes, what the f&%! I know Mrs. Neal and James trash me but come on. A bridge deal will prove this guy is the real thing. I was all in on him until playoffs where both his skating and his effectiveness were both less than stellar for a supposed future captain.

  • 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.

  • 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