After a summer of uncertainty and a few frenzied days of talks, the Calgary Flames reached a deal with Matthew Tkachuk on a three year pact. Tkachuk and general manager Brad Treliving held court with local media on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the last piece of lingering business as the team prepares for the 2019-20 regular season.
The negotiation was a bit of a balancing act
As was reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, among others, it was confirmed by both Treliving and Tkachuk that the sides had discussed a long-term deal. Treliving joked that they spent “hours, weeks, and months” on such discussions. But the balancing act of the deal was that neither side wanted a long-term deal to result in moving a piece to weaken the team during its competitive window.
Several factors complicated things
These two sides have been able to ink an extension since July 1, 2018. Why did it take until late September 2019? Well, several reasons:
- The salary cap only went up to $81.5 million after initial projections were north of $83 million.
- An evolving, unprecedented market for RFAs coming off their entry level deals.
- Labour uncertainty until both the NHL and NHLPA decided not to re-open the CBA this past month.
- While not discussed in the press conference, a quiet trade market that saw the Flames reportedly try, and fail, to move Mark Jankowski, TJ Brodie and Michael Frolik.
Several factors brought things to a resolution
After months and months of waiting, though, a deal came together fairly quickly. Why did things suddenly get moving?
- A looming deadline, as the Flames had a shrinking window to get Tkachuk up to speed in the pre-season (and to avoid a complicated cap situation should be sign after the regular season began).
- An evolving market that suddenly had much more clarity in terms of salary structure and cap comparables. It’s a bit simplistic to say that only the Brayden Point deal made dominoes topple, but it was another piece of a puzzle that suddenly made what the deal needed to look like pretty clear. (See also: Brock Boeser, Charlie McAvoy and Zach Werenski)
They feel they have a pretty good team
Both Treliving and Tkachuk expressed during the press conference not having to break apart the team to get a deal done. Treliving used the phrase “distressed transaction,” noting that he wanted to avoid having to make a deal to fit everybody in – in other words, he didn’t want to have to eject a valuable piece to a competitor for pennies on the dollar.
Tkachuk wanting the same crew back and Treliving not wanting to make moves under duress both spoke volumes about how highly these two individuals value the group that Treliving has amassed.
They feel they have cap flexibility
When asked during his presser about whether the team had enough cap flexibility to maneuver, Treliving didn’t hesitate to answer “Yes.” He’s right, in the sense that the big pieces are done and can be worked around. As discussed here on Wednesday morning, the Flames don’t need to do anything drastic to fit under the cap ceiling when they file their opening roster.
But Treliving also noted that their work isn’t done. With only a few hundred thousand dollars of wiggle room, they’re probably kicking tires on possible deals of various shapes and forms to give them added flexibility. But the Flames don’t need to jettison anybody significant in the immediate future for pennies on the dollar.