With the reports coming out that Matthew Tkachuk could be traded before his upcoming arbitration hearing I wanted to take a deep dive into what it could look like if the Wild decided to acquire the 24 year old RFA superstar.
The Athletic published a piece this morning listing 7 potential destinations for Tkachuk. While none of these were the Wild (they were briefly mentioned as a fit except for the cap issues), three of the seven were in the central division: St. Louis, Nashville and Dallas. St. Louis is regarded as the obvious destination because of the family history, the package they could offer and the ability to consistently win. The proposed package that the Athletic listed out included Jordan Kyrou, a 2023 first and either Jake Neighbors or Zachary Bolduc. This is a combination of a win now player in Kyrou to help offset the loss of Tkachuk and two futures. Is this enough of a return for a young stud winger coming off a 100 point season? And is there a package the Wild could offer to beat out these other central division teams while potentially changing the trajectory of this franchise?
Here is my proposed package to the Flames:
Tyson Jost or Jordan Greenway (Calgary's preference)
Minnesota Wild :
In order to make the money work the obvious piece going back is Dumba. I see him on the Flames' second pair which bumps Chris Tanev down to the third pair and Zadorov down to the 7th d (or they could try and flip him later). Furthermore, per Capfriendly, the Flames have ample cap space to give Dumba an extension and this brings a win now player back to the Flames.
Next we have either Jost or Greenway as additional NHL caliber forwards and salary to help make the money work. Jost has the pedigree of a former top ten pick who could attempt to revive his career in a Flames offense that was one of the best in the league last year while potentially seeing more ice time than he would in a Wild uniform. Greenway would be a power forward replacement for Tkachuk while obviously having way less skill. Also, this would help the Wild free up future cap space (this will be looked at below). Either player would theoretically slot into the middle six while being young controllable assets for Calgary.
Per Scott Wheeler's prospect rankings Calgary only has one defensive prospect in their top 13 (ranked fifth). Minnesota on the other hand has 4 in their top 10. And these rankings are slightly outdated taking place in mid January, I would assume that Brock Faber would slot in just below Lambos but ahead of Jack Peart in terms of the team's defensive prospects. With many believing that Faber is the Dumba replacement and the glut of d prospects in the Wild's system, using Lambos in a package to acquire a proven forward makes a ton of sense. This also helps round out the Flames pool, giving them an additional piece on the defensive side with a second pairing upside and first round pedigree. Plus, his play style would seem to compliment their other top d prospect, Jeremie Poirier, who is an offensive first player.
Lastly, the two future first round picks. With Tkachuk and Kaprizov powering the team for the foreseeable future both of these picks would be firmly in the back half of the first round. Moreover, Guerin has done a good job of not throwing away picks like previous regimes so as of now these two firsts plus a third this year are the only picks the team would not have for the next two years. With Brackett having restocked the prospect pool, not having those two firsts won't cripple the franchise, but are still valuable pieces to the Flames organization that only has a middling prospect pool.
Tkachuk's contract extension:
This deal is only made with his agreement in advance to an extension with the Wild. I am proposing an 8 year deal with an AAV of 11 million. After the above move, the Wild would have just over 12 or 13 million in cap space, depending on if Jost or Greenway is in the deal. Based on the Athletic's reporting, he is looking to move to a "large American market". While Minnesota is far from a large market, this is a devout hockey community and a team that is on the upswing. With Kaprizov and Tkachuk leading the way, the Wild should be a perennial contender or at a bare minimum, a playoff team. Furthermore, as evidence of the Johnny Hockey signing, being closer to home/family while not in the same city can have some appeal. Minnesota would give him that opportunity while fulfilling his desire to play for a winning franchise.
The Wild's roster going forward:
With the team being able to acquire Tkachuk without giving up one (or both) of Rossi and Boldy, here is how I could see the lines shaking out next year.
KK - Hartman - Zucc
Boldy - Rossi - Tkachuk (one potential issue is can either Tkachuk or Boldy play on their off-hand?)
Dewar - Freddy - Duhaime
*If Greenway is part of the deal I would move Duhaime to the GREEF line and Jost would again slot in on the fourth line.
Middleton - Spurge
Brodin - Addison
Goose - Kulikov/Merrill
Being able to have potentially two dominant scoring lines is huge in this league and the Wild would definitely have that this year. This would give a massive boost to the stagnant powerplay of last year and help ease the transition for Rossi while keeping the top line intact for one more year. Two additional notes, BG might have to flip Kulikov for a cheaper bottom pairing defenseman if Jost is the player moved instead of Greenway (just to give an extra million+ in cap for call ups). And this scenario is going off the assumption/hope that Addison is ready to take an nhl roster spot.
Looking past this year, the Wild currently have 17 mil in cap space. If Greenway is moved that number jumps to 20 million. The 11 mil AAV for Tkachuk would still leave between 6 and 9 million dollars for a bridge deal for Boldy and to resign other players. Once the Zucc deal comes off the books in two years the Wild could move Tkachuk to a line with Kaprizov and watch two superstars thrive together.
Is this package/contract extension enough to pry Tkachuk out of Calgary and keep him from potentially joining a central division rival? I believe it is.