New York Islanders
Mat For Matt? Tkachuk Cost Defeats Purpose of Trade
The New York Islanders need offense, particularly a player to line up alongside 25-year-old Mathew Barzal. Over the last day or so, rumors have swirled around Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, as his days as a member of the Calgary Flames seem numbered.
Matthew Tkachuk, a restricted free agent, and his agent elected not to file for arbitration, but the Flames did.
Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving just lost his prized possession, the face of the franchise in Johnny Gaudreau. It was not just a loss that stunned the fan base but stunned Treliving as well.
He will not be blindsided again and would rather trade his star than lose him for nothing.
Turns out, that’s what he will have to do as per Jeremy Rutherford, Tkachuk has told Calgary he will not be re-signing long-term.
Matthew Tkachuk is coming off a ridiculous season which increased his value. He notched 42 goals and 62 assists and played in all 82 games for the Flames. Twelve of his 42 goals came on the power play.
In the postseason, Tkachuk scored four goals and recorded six assists as the Flames fell in five games to the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference semi-finals.
Could Tkachuk have continued success alongside New York Islanders Mathew Barzal?
Well, there’s the issue.
If New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello wanted to trade for Matthew Tkachuk to get to the table, it would be hard to see a scenario where Calgary doesn’t ask for Barzal in the deal.
The Islanders do not have a strong prospect pool, and the Flames are not interested in having to rebuild after finally being a force in the West.
I’ve seen some trade predictions, including pieces like Kieffer Bellows & Anthony Beauvillier.
Kieffer Bellows, 24, did improve in 2021-22 but still has not shown the signs that he can be an everyday NHL player. That’s not to say he can’t become one, but Treliving wants players he knows are legitimate NHL players.
Anthony Beauvillier, 25, who I doubt gets traded to begin with, is coming off a miserable 2021-22 season as his trade value is as low as it has ever been.
These two players will not move the needle. That brings us back to Mathew Barzal.
The whole point of trading for a player like Matthew Tkachuk is because Barzal needs a linemate.
It is worth noting that Matt Tkachuk skated alongside Johnny Gaudreau last season, with both players putting together career years.
According to Natural Stat Trick, at five-on-five play during the regular season, when Gaudreau was not on the ice with Tkachuk, the Flames only scored six goals. When Tkachuk was not on the ice with Gaudreau, the Flames scored 10 goals.
Gaudreau does have more offensive upside than Barzal, but Barzal has never been given a legitimate goal-scoring threat to play with. The results could be rather similar.
But if Barzal is going the other way, then the Islanders acquisition of Tkachuk makes little to no sense and creates another hole in the lineup.
The Islanders could sign Nazem Kadri, make him the no. 1 center, and then get Tkachuk to be his left-winger, making Barzal expendable. Other moves would have to be made by Lamoriello to be cap compliant, as would any move the Islanders make this offseason.
But the New York Islanders have never acquired a star in free agency or via trade since Lamoriello has taken over, so the likelihood that they acquire two in free agency is slim to none.
Mathew Barzal said in his exit interviews this past season that he wants to be a New York Islander for his entire career:
“This is home. This is where I want to be. This is where I want to win. I love my life here. I love the city. I love the fans. Obviously, our new rink is amazing. and I love wearing the blue and orange. I would love to sign long-term here.”
Actions speak louder than words, as Islander fans have come to notice…and Barzal could prove that this season or after, with the 2022-23 season being the final year of his contract.
Now, Mathew Barzal for Matthew Tkachuk would not be the deal that goes down. Tkachuk is a goal scorer and, in today’s NHL, holds more value than a playmaker. Also, the Flames still have Elias Lindholm, their top-line center, so they do not need another one.
Lamoriello would need to include picks and maybe a top prospect to get the job done.
Not to mention, Tkachuk would need to be extended upon arrival and he is not being acquired unless he is willing to sign long-term.
If there was a way for the Islanders to get Tkachuk without having to move Barzal, then Lamoriello should do it as those two players together could be dynamic.
But if I’m the Flames, my ask starts with Mathew Barzal, and that defeats the purpose of a Tkachuk trade for the New York Islanders.