Imagine a world in which Matthew Tkachuk ended up in Carolina last summer instead of Florida.
One doesn’t have to imagine too hard. Because the evidence suggests the Hurricanes were, in fact, the runners-up in trade talks for Tkachuk.
Let’s revisit what transpired last July after Tkachuk, a restricted free agent at the time, informed the Flames he wasn’t committing to a new contract, hence forcing a trade.
The Flames investigated the market for Tkachuk, based on the list of teams they got from the player’s reps at Newport Sports, which included the Blues, Avalanche, Lightning, Golden Knights, Hurricanes and, of course, Panthers.
The Stanley Cup finalists, Tampa Bay and Colorado, were never logical options for cap and roster reasons.
So the list got cut down in a hurry.
“When you get the list of teams, and I’m not going to get into the other teams, but pretty quickly the group of teams they gave us was probably down two or three,” then-Flames general manager Brad Treliving told me in September of the deal. “There just wasn’t a path. At least when I looked at it, I didn’t see a path toward a deal, based from a financial standpoint.
“We had an idea what the number was going to be for (an extension for) Matthew, because we’re doing a sign-and-trade, and so when you look at who can absorb that number and what they would have to move to absorb that number, and you make your calls to the teams, in fairly short order it was obvious there wasn’t a path to a deal with some of them.”
The Panthers quickly became front-runners when it was apparent the Flames could end up with star winger Jonathan Huberdeau and top-four blueliner Mackenzie Weegar in return.
“It doesn’t come very often that you move a player of Matthew’s caliber and the age and the rest of it,” Treliving said. “So we got to make the deal work for us.
“You’re framing it against all the other deals that were out there. I thought the talent that we were getting and the type of players we were getting was certainly the best deal that we had. And we love the players that we got.”
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.
Waddell, in an October interview, wouldn’t name Tkachuk by name because that’s against the rules but all but confirmed his swing at Tkachuk when I asked him about it.
“There’s a lot of good players that were on the market this summer, and as a general manager of this team, we always look to see where we can get better,”…
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