Should the Calgary Flames have traded Matthew Tkachuk to Carolina instead of Florida?

Photo credit:© James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Munnich
11 months ago
Last summer Matthew Tkachuk told the Calgary Flames that he was not going to sign with the organization long term. He gave the Flames a list of teams that he would be willing to accept a trade to and sign an extension with. Two of the teams reportedly on his list were the Florida Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Tkachuk was traded to the Panthers for a huge return that included Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, a conditional 2025 first-round pick and Cole Schwindt.
From an asset management perspective, it was a good deal for both teams. The Flames got two high end NHL players, a pick and a prospect. And of course, the Panthers got a franchise altering player in Tkachuk.
But what would it have looked like if the Flames traded Tkachuk to Carolina instead of Florida? Let’s take a look.
It was reported by Pierre LeBrun that the Hurricanes’ offer for Tkachuk included Martin Necas:
As I reported back in September, I believe the final three teams in the mix on Tkachuk were St. Louis, Carolina and Florida. And after making more calls, it’s apparent that the Hurricanes’ potential package — which I believe included Martin Necas — was runner-up, although it was still generally more of a futures deal, which is why the Florida package always made more sense for a Calgary team trying to win now.
It’s fair to assume Carolina’s trade package would have also included a first-round pick and potentially a prospect or two as it was a ‘futures deal’.
Would it have made more sense for the Flames to take that trade package? It might have been, especially when you look at their centre depth at the time.
In July 2022, the only NHL centres under contract were Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund and Trevor Lewis. All three of them had contracts expiring by at least the end of the 2023-24 season. And all three of those players were 28+ years old.
The Flames only centre prospects who had a legit chance of making the NHL were Adam Ruzicka and Connor Zary. Those two players might end up being good players, but as of right now it’s not looking like they will be star players in the NHL.
So, when you consider that centre is the most important position in hockey, the Flames centre depth, and their prospect group, why would the Flames not take the Carolina deal? Necas checked all the boxes for what teams covet in a top six centre.
Necas was 23 at the time of the Tkachuk trade. He was the 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft. He’s 6’2″, 190 pounds. And he is a skilled forward with great speed. He is exactly what the Flames needed at the time.
Instead, Brad Treliving decided to trade for a winger and a defenceman. Both very talented players. But they were both UFAs in one year and both were going to be 30 at the time their new contract extensions kick in.
Necas was an RFA at the time of the Tkachuk trade. The Flames could have had his rights and had the ability to sign him to a long-term extension through his age 23-30 seasons, which are the prime years of the overwhelming majority of NHL players today.
Instead of having $17.5 million tied up in Huberdeau and Weegar for the next eight years, the Flames could have potentially signed Necas to a long-term contact and had ample cap space and assets from the trade to add more pieces to their roster.

Should the Flames have made a deal with Carolina?

Looking back in hindsight, which is very easy to do, yes, the Flames would have been better off long term having made a deal with Carolina instead of Florida. Having eight years invested in a 23-year-old, up and coming, big centreman instead of Huberdeau and Weegar would have set the Flames up for future success on the ice and with their salary cap situation.
But let’s not get down on the package they received from Florida. Weegar is a top pairing defenceman and seems to be getting better with age. And Huberdeau is an extremely talented player with the potential to have some good years in Calgary. So it’s certainly not the end of the world.
However, the Flames would have been younger, faster, and had a better cap situation had they made the deal with Carolina.
This is why it is so important to always be looking at the long-term health of your organization, something the Flames have not done a good job of over the last 6-7 years. The Flames continually make short-term, short-sighted hockey decisions to get in the playoffs one year at a time.
It would be great to hear from the fans. Are you still happy the Flames made the deal with Florida? Or would you rather have had them make a deal with the Hurricanes to acquire Necas? Let me know in the comments section!

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