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.

  • Ramskull

    I have a feeling this is going to be a long negotiation. Tre has been insistent on maintaining the internal cap structure. My guess is that it’s a bridge deal around the same cap hit as Gio or just a little more.

  • Off the wall

    Tkachuk started his career at the young age of 19. His UFA starts after 7 years of hockey played, or 26 years old in his case, assuming my math is correct.

    He’s 21, DOB, is in December, when he’ll turn 22.
    I think the important thing is term. Do we sign him for 6-8 years, eating some valuable UFA years, or does Treliving try a shorter term, and keep the Cap hit a bit lower?

    I honestly don’t know what Tkachuk is gonna get. One thing I’m happy about, is that Conroy indicated he has no intention of signing an offer sheet. That means he wants to play in Calgary and by the sounds of it, negotiations are going well.

    • Zorn

      I know that traditionally players look forward to their UFA status and historically bigger pay cheques, but the league is changing. I think that the young guns are now the ones that will be paid. Too many of these older players are unable to live up to expectations and teams are becoming less likely to give huge money on long term contracts. Remember that GMs are still learning how to manage the salary cap and do not want to be left holding the bag with albatross signings. Owners will get fed up with paying huge money for buyouts.

        • Zorn

          Some may still sign for less money short term but only if they don’t see themselves as yet a part of the team’s core. Those like our “Bing”
          are going to want their money ‘now’ and I don’t think it matters too much whether it is long or short term.

          • Kevin R

            I think this younger generation, very much like my kids are I want it all & I want it now mentality. I think Tre could get a long term with the cap lowered, he just needs to get Chucky a real good chunk of that value of the contract to him in the first 2-3 years through bonuses. So again, if we can get Chucky to sign for 7 years at a 7.0 mill AV but Chucky gets 40% of that in the first two years, even old man Chucky will pat his boy on the back.

        • oilcanboyd

          If his long term contract includes years after he would have been eligible for free agency the more for long term. Plus players coming in after this season will have the benefit of a higher cap and will demand even more…

  • 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.

  • Just a Fan

    I think you are missing one very important point. The term of Aho cntract is 5 years. He is a free agent when it expires. How much more is the cost if Calgary wants Tkachuk for 6-8 years?

    I think the Aho contract sets the ceiling for a bridge contract and the floor for a long term deal.

  • 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.

  • Willi P

    If not for the i di ot in Toronto paying UFA money to Matthews on a 5 year deal, the Aho and future Tkachuk deals would have been discounted for the RFA years. Dubas panicked after the MElander “negotiation” and gave Auston what ever he wanted (5 year UFA money), eliminating the RFA discount.

  • freethe flames

    It would not surprise me at all if Tkachuk’s contract was 5 years at @7.6m keeping roughly the same cap % as Johnny’s was at the time. It will likely be front loaded like Aho’s.

    • Uranus

      Yes, I agree that a hybrid bridge deal that finds the middle ground makes sense for both parties. It will be also front loaded to take the sting out of a potential lockout.

  • calgaryfan

    It seems the agents and the young players are not going to sign past their UFA date anymore, and why would they? A 26 or 27 year old at UFA could create quite a bidding war.

  • Clayton

    I think this one is easy to predict. It will be an annual cap hit of $7.75M per season. That will make him the highest paid Flame, but will keep is salary in line with Gio’s internal cap in terms of %age of the salary cap. When Gio signed his deal he took up 9.5% of the cap at the time. 9.5% of the current $81.5M cap is about $7.75M per. Tre will work this number as hard as he can to get closer and closer to the $7M figure he can, but it will settle in that $7.5-7.75 range.

  • 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?

  • freethe flames

    I suspect that BT is trying to keep the number down to the internal cap of $6.75 x 3 years and his basic argument would go like this; in 3 years both Gio and Johnny’s numbers come off the the books and you will set the new team internal cap. That and with the likely cap increase between no and then will be near the top of the league. By you taking a little less now we have a better chance of adding another top 6 forward to play with you and thereby increasing your next contract.

  • Rockmorton65

    I think Tre gets creative with the structure of the contract.

    For the first three years, Tkachuk gets 6.75. Keeps him in line with the internal cap structure for the length of Gio’s deal. For five years after that, it jumps to 8.

    (6.75 x 3) + (8 x 5) = 60.25 mil

    60.25 mil/8 years = 7.53 AAV

    That should eliminate any potential problems in the dressing room while paying Chucky what he’s worth.

    • freethe flames

      The aav will say $7.53 but Tre will be able to look Gio in the eyes and say”see you are still the highest paid Flame (for the next 3 years) and still be able to go to Johnny and basically say the same thing. Again it will be highly front loaded with bonuses.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • drogon

    I like Tkachuk, but he’s not elite, not at the same level of Marner and Aho. He should not get more than $7.5M and he’s lucky that his number will be inflated because of this crazy RFA market. Today”s NHL is all about skills & speed and he’s only 50% of the package.

  • freethe flames

    The missing element in this article is the Meier contract; $6m. Tkachuk needs to be between these two numbers as he is between these two players. That would put it at $7.2m but he closer to AHO so I still think it will be @the $7.6m number.

  • 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.

  • Thirty years ago Keith held the Jets hostage and he was gone a year later… Matthew will be doing the same. Short two/three year deal at or below Gio to take a run at it while the window is open and then it’s off to America baby. They, and a couple other families, are USA hockey.

      • Kevin R

        I agree! I feel Gaudreau thinks he got ground down & low balled on his negotiation & juast didnt want to miss any of the season so he succumbed to Tre. I would be seriously in the court of trading him next summer to max out value. I see him doing a Tavares to us.

        • drogon

          I agree. Something’s wrong with Gaudreau… like the comments he made following the quick playoff exit, it sounds like indifference or a lack of accountability. It’s troubling. Not sure how the owners or management reacted when they’ve read this.
          He’s definitely not a playoff performer because of the intense physicality. And BT knows that he will not extend his current contract, I’m sure he has a plan in place…

        • fretsey

          He’s do a $3.5 Million dollar signing bonus next year and the year after he has a modified NTC: Starting 2021-22, Player submits a 5 team trade list. That list screams East Coast…talk about projecting where you actually want to play rather than in Calagery. Philly would want him bad,they’re attendance is down and JG fills the seats. Trade him at the draft next year (we’d have to pay the SB)

    • Albertabeef

      Actually that wasn’t even 20 years ago yet. Keith also had back to back 50 goal seasons as well to negotiate with. Keith was also traded after playing games in 10 seasons for the Jets/PHX franchise in 2000-01. Matty has only been here 3 seasons so far. Comparing the two to me is pointless.

  • dewtel

    Great informative article, Ryan. Thanks.

    Discussion has as usual digressed to the same level from the same tired posters.

    1) The flames do everything wrong.
    2) Poster tells us immediately its will not work out, management sucks.
    3) Then when any players under performs, they tell everyone they were right, and are smarter than everyone else.

    Sorry, this flawed narrative contributes nothing to this or any other discussion. But keep on feeling good about yourself (for whatever reason you feel the need to post on FLAMESnation).

    • Derzie

      This is true BUT see if this sounds familiar

      1) Flames are doing things the right way
      2) Poster tells us immediately it’s a smart move & in Tre we trust
      3) Then when any players performs, they tell everyone they were wrong to worry, and the downers need to lighten up.

      Sorry, this flawed narrative contributes nothing to this or any other discussion. But keep on feeling good about yourself (for whatever reason you feel the need to post on flamesNATION).

      • freethe flames

        !. Things sometimes go well sometimes go poorly. When nothing is happening people dwell on what the nothing means.
        2. Every poster thinks they are smarter than every other poster(hence I wrote this silly response)
        3. When my favorite player(s) performs I gloat, when the guy I hate performs I disappear.

        Ahh the wonders of being a fan.

    • Luter 1

      Seriously though, you can’t give Tre top rankings with the Stone, Brouwer, Neal deals. I’ve never been a GM but watched 50 years of hockey and immediately thought Stone was a huge overpay (also previous non-Tre signings: Engelland, Sarich) along with both Brouwer and Neal all in an effort to bring some supposed talented toughness to this team. All were big misses for Tre and now he lost Hathaway so he is still searching for functional toughness. I believe he knows he needs some but can’t seem to find the right fit.

        • Albertabeef

          Mostly I think the evidence shows otherwise as more losses than wins. Tre has been hard nosed with the RFA’s and the only good trade was for Lindholm. Everything else has been blah or worse. I give any draft success to the scouts not the GM, although GM should veto any bad picks like MacDonald instead of Demko(or any forward or D) for a goalie pick. How many Flames fans lost their minds that day? I remember freaking out in front of Starbucks that day lol.

    • buts

      Dewy, we are fans and our team has done what this summer? This is a blog and if some of us want to criticize especially if we dump a lot of money then so be it. Don’t criticize our passion.

      • Albertabeef

        And I just realized Gio had his best ever playoff performance of his Flames franchise career(Lowell Lock Monsters were mostly Hurricane prospects). He had more playoff games played and more points than any season before in any kind of Flames silks. At this rate of progression he may lead us to a cup in another 10-15 years lol. Other than that year with Lowell and the other one in Moscow those are the only times Gio has seen a second round of playoff hockey. He never even played more than 7 playoff games in a single season in junior.