Matthew Tkachuk got a great deal from Florida.
Every team’s fans believe that they have what it takes to land the big names when it’s free agency time. There’s a lot of excitement when one of those huge names is the son of a former player and current front office member. There’s no way that athlete wouldn’t want to come to St. Louis. As a matter of fact, this is their house!
What happened to the Blues supporters was a stark reminder that the NHL is not a competition between teams, but rather between the clubs themselves and what they are willing to pay for their players. When Matthew Tkachuk was a restricted free agent, he had to go where his current team thought they could obtain the best deal. That’s what happened at 11 p.m. last night.
A $76 million contract with Tkachuk was then signed by the Panthers. For the time being, the Panthers are over the salary cap by a total of $3,375,834.
The Flames got exactly what they were looking for in the transaction with Florida’s offer of Jonathan Huberdeau, a quality 100+ point player. Johnny Gaudreau’s departure isn’t the only thing the organization has to cope with as a result of this trade.
Last season, Huberdeau had 11 more points than Tkachuk did, with 115. With Huberdeau, the Flames receive a player who can both score and protect the puck; Tkachuk scored 42 goals, while Huberdeau finished with 30. The Flames received MacKenzie Weegar and Pierre-Edouard Huberdeau back in the exchange. Weegar is a puck-moving defenceman who has contributed to 36 goals and 36 assists over his career.
In order to compete with that, what were the Blues going to offer? There have been rumors that Torey Krug would be interested, but he’s two years older and around $4 million more expensive than Weegar. In terms of forwards, Jordan Kyrou isn’t as productive or reliable as Huberdeau. After this season, Kyrou is a restricted free agent, while Huberdeau is a restricted unrestricted free agent.
However, unless Doug Armstrong is willing to continue trading away possibly crucial components of the team’s future in exchange for an immediate win, the Blues do not currently have a deep stable of young prospects. Giving a confused message by doing this on top of the Blues trading away point creators like Kyrou and losing David Perron to free agency would be counterproductive (especially if Tarasenko leaves at the end of this season as well). Doug Armstrong might not want to lose three of the Blues’ finest scorers, as well as a promising prospect like Scott Perunovich or Jake Neighbours, while also reducing the Blues’ attack by over 90 goals over the course of two offseasons. The Panthers were able to put together a strong trade deal for Tkachuk instead of the Blues, even after giving up a second first-round draft pick.
The fact that both of the Tkachuk brothers play in the Eastern Conference is a plus in this scenario. At first, there were whispers that the Predators and Stars were involved. A squad in the Eastern Conference is preferable to a Central Division rival for Tkachuk.