Matthew Tkachuk

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Flames still face cap challenges after Lucic – Neal trade

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The Calgary Flames faced a cap crunch with James Neal on the books, and they still face potential issues with Milan Lucic being traded in at $500K cheaper.

[More on the contract situations here, and Lucic vs. Neal on ice in this post.]

That’s a lot of money under most circumstances, but $500K goes fast in the modern NHL. In fact, $500K wouldn’t cover the minimum salary of a single player. Every dollar could end up counting for the Flames, so it’s nothing to sneeze at, but things could be tight nonetheless. It may even force someone other than Neal out of the fold.

While the Flames currently boast an estimated $9.973 million in cap space, according to Cap Friendly, that money will dry up quickly. They still need to hammer out deals for RFAs Matthew Tkachuk, David Rittich, Sam Bennett, and Andrew Mangiapane.

Really, would it shock you if Tkachuk and Rittich came in at $10M combined? Such costs are real considerations for the Flames, assuming they can’t convince Tkachuk to take a Kevin Labanc-ian discount.

In Ryan Pike’s breakdown of the cap situation for Flames Nation, he found that Calgary may still have trouble fitting everyone under the cap by his estimations, even if the Flames bought out overpriced defenseman Michael Stone. Buying out Stone seems like a good starting point as we consider some of the calls Treliving might need to make before the Flames’ roster is solidified.

Buying out Stone in August: Stone, 29, has one year left on a deal that carries a $3.5M cap hit and matching salary. If the Flames bought him out, they’d save $2.33M in 2019-20, as Stone’s buyout would register a cap hit of about $1.167M in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

As frustrating as it would be for the Flames to combine dead money in a Stone buyout with Troy Brouwer‘s buyout (remaining $1.5M for the next three seasons), it might just be necessary. Really, it might be the easiest decision of all.

Granted, maybe someone like the Senators would take on Stone’s contract if the Flames bribed them with picks and/or prospects, much like the Hurricanes did in taking Patrick Marleau off of the Maple Leafs’ hands?

Either way, there’s a chance Stone won’t be making $3.5M with the Flames next season.

Trade Sam Bennett’s rights? With things getting really snug, and the forward unlikely to justify being the fourth pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, maybe the Flames would be better off moving on by sending Bennett/his RFA rights to another team and filling that roster spot with a cheaper option?

If a team coughed up a decent pick and/or prospect for Bennett, assuming he needs a change of scenery, it could be a win for everyone. The Flames might not be comfortable about that yet with Bennett being 23, but it should at least be discussed.

Trade an expiring contract player? T.J. Brodie ($4.65M), Michael Frolik ($4.3M), and Travis Hamonic ($3.857M) all seem to be signed at reasonable prices, if not mild bargains. All three are only covered through 2019-20, however, making it reasonable to picture them as parts of various trade scenarios. In fact, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Flames were working on a potential deal involving Brodie and then-Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri, and Kadri admitted on “31 Thoughts” that he didn’t waive his clause to allow Calgary to trade for him.

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Over the years, including this summer with LaBanc and Timo Meier signing sweet deals for the Sharks, sometimes RFAs take care off cap concerns for their teams. There are scenarios where such constraints actually help the given team land some discounts; it sure felt that way when the Bruins got a deal with Torey Krug back in 2016.

As of this writing, it seems like the Flames might face a tight squeeze in fitting under the cap.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Binnington’s worth; Are the Penguins better?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Don’t expect Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin to hand out a top tier offer sheet. (Sportsnet)

• How does the Sebastian Aho offer sheet impact negotiations between the Flames and Matthew Tkachuk? (Flames Nation)

• Blues GM Doug Armstrong has to find a way to put on a dollar amount of Jordan Binnington‘s worth. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

• Travis Yost analyzes whether or not the five-forward power play will become the next trend in the NHL. (TSN)

• Are the Penguins a better now than they were at the end of the season? (Pensburgh)

• What changes for the Hurricanes if Justin Williams comes back? (Cardiac Cane)

• On the Forecheck analyzes streakiness in hockey. (On the Forecheck)

• The Golden Knights organization offers the best training to their prospects. (Sinbin.Vegas)

• Red Wings first-rounder Moritz Seider is looking forward to his bright future. (NHL.com)

• The Winnipeg Jets are living proof that the salary cap doesn’t create a level playing field. (Featurd)

• Should the Florida Panthers consider trading Owen Tippett? (The Rat Trick)

• The NHL needs to find a way to further diversify its fan base. (Grand Stand Central)

Sven Andrighetto is leaving the NHL for the KHL. (Swiss Hockey)

• How much money does Rangers GM Jeff Gorton have to work with to sign four key restricted free agents. (Blue Shirt Banter)

• The Vancouver Canucks need to do a better job of weighing opportunity cost when building their roster. Something the Los Angeles Clippers and Buffalo Sabres are doing. (Vancouver Sun)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Which players might be on the move this week?

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Since the Stanley Cup Final came to an end last week, we’ve seen NHL general managers make a plethora of moves to bolster their teams. Jacob Trouba, Olli Maatta and Matt Niskanen have already been moved and Kevin Hayes has inked a mega deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. But who else might be shipped to a different team in the coming days?

With the feeling of disappointment still fresh in most teams’ mind (except you, St. Louis), this is where general managers want to wheel-and-deal in order to make themselves as competitive as possible heading into next season. There’s always plenty of trade chatter at this time of year, but it appears as though there’s a real opportunity for us to see some blockbuster moves this summer.

There also appears to be a number of offer sheet possibilities, which is hard to believe because that’s a route general managers don’t typically jump on. But with so many superstar restricted free agents about to hit the market, it appears as though some teams may be willing to part with these players via trade instead of losing them to an offer sheet.

Alright, so let’s take a look at which players could be traded before the NHL Draft (Friday, 7:30 pm ET on NBCSN) or before NHL free agency begins.

Nikolaj Ehlers – W- Winnipeg Jets: The Jets probably don’t want to unload Ehlers, but their current cap situation might force them to. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has roughly $25 million in cap space at his disposal right now, but he has to re-sign Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Tyler Myers and Neal Pionk, who was recently acquired from the New York Rangers. Ehlers is about to enter the second year of his seven-year, $42 million extension ($6 million AAV). He posted 21 goals and a disappointing 37 points in 62 games last season. Again, those numbers were low for a player of his caliber but it’s clear that he possesses the talent to be a top-line player in the NHL. Teams should be lining up for his services.

P.K. Subban – D – Nashville Predators: Subban is just three years into his tenure with the Predators, but a group of high-priced defensemen could lead to him being on his way out the door. It would be surprising to see GM David Poile unload Subban so soon, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. Subban has missed 16 and 19 games in two of his three seasons in Nashville and he’s entering his age 30 season. Could that play a factor in Poile’s decision? The Preds also have to sign captain Roman Josi to a long-term extension and he’s going to make way more than the $4 million they’re currently paying him.

Jason Zucker – W – Minnesota Wild: Zucker was reportedly part of the trade that would’ve seen Phil Kessel head to Minnesota from Pittsburgh. That puts the 27-year-old in a bit of an awkward position with his current team, so they may be forced to part ways with him soon. Zucker scored 21 goals and 21 assists in 81 games last season, but he’s just one year removed from a 33-goal and 64-point season. He has four years remaining on a contract that pays him $5.5 million per year.

Phil Kessel – W – Pittsburgh Penguins: Is a move still possible? You’d have to think that if Kessel is going to be traded, it will happen sometime before or during the NHL Entry Draft. The Pens seem motivated to move on from the veteran winger, and teams are desperate for goals so it seems like there’s still a chance he could end up somewhere else before the start of next season. Where is he willing to be moved to though?

Nazem Kadri – C – Toronto Maple Leafs: This potential move has nothing to do with Kadri’s ability to play. The 28-year-old is coming off a down year, but he’s still a quality center, which is hard to find in the NHL. The problem is that he allows his emotions to get the best of him in critical times. This year, a suspension forced him to watch from the press box as his team was eliminated in the first round by the Boston Bruins. Has he run out of chances in Toronto?

T.J. Brodie – D – Calgary Flames: Brodie has one year remaining on his contract. It comes with a cap hit of $4.65 million, which means he’ll probably be looking for a raise heading into next summer. The Flames have to re-sign some key parts like Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk and they have to find themselves a starting netminder before the start of the year. Brodie is a left-handed shot capable of playing over 20 minutes per game. The 29-year-old had nine goals and 34 points in 79 games this season.

William Karlsson – C – Vegas Golden Knights: Karlsson took off after he was claimed by Vegas in the expansion draft. The pending restricted free agent put up 43 goals and 78 points in his first year with the Golden Knights and he followed that up with 24 goals and 56 points last season. He’s a quality two-way center that will need to get a significant raise this offseason. The Golden Knights don’t have the salary cap space to bring him back without making another move or two, so he could be the target of an offer sheet after July 1st.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Morning Skate: Yzerman’s big draft; Comparing Binnington to Murray

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The Montreal Canadiens shouldn’t be in a hurry to trade Andrew Shaw away this summer. (Habs Eyes on the Prize)

• Hurricanes goalie coach Mike Banes has resigned from his position with the team. (News & Observer)

• Should the Tampa Bay Lightning stick with Jon Cooper as their head coach? (Bolts by the Bay)

• Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has 19 days to figure out how to improve his team’s roster. (Pension Plan Puppets)

• Tanner Glass is reportedly joining the Rangers’ front office. (Blue Seat Blogs)

• How does Jordan Binnington‘s run to the Stanley Cup compare to what Matt Murray did for the Penguins? (The Sports Daily)

• Steve Yzerman has to knock this draft out of the park for the Detroit Red Wings. (Detroit Free Press)

• Now that Jay Bouwmeester has won a Stanley Cup, The Hockey News looks at other notable veterans that are searching for their first championship. (The Hockey News)

• The Score takes a look at what Matthew Tkachuk‘s next contract might look like. (The Score)

Darcy Kuemper went from being a backup goalie to becoming the most important player on the Coyotes. (Five for Howling)

• TSN’s Travis Yost writes about how the Blues’ patient approach paid off in the end. (TSN)

• NHL.com broke down the top 10 moments of the Stanley Cup Final. (NHL.com)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Morning Skate: Takeaways from combine; Boring Marchand

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• A lot went wrong for the Anaheim Ducks in 2018-19, but Rotoworld.com’s Ryan Dadoun dug a little deeper. (Rotoworld)

• There’s just not slowing down Tuukka Rask in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (The Hockey News)

• Here are 10 takeaways from the 2019 NHL Draft Combine. (Sportsnet)

• A specific moment in Game 3 showed another problem with offside reviews the NHL will have to look at. (Stanley Cup of Chowder)

• Has Brad Marchand become boring? (WEEI)

Marcus Johansson‘s price tag on his next contract just keeps on climbing. (NBC Sports Washington)

• Should the Flyers submit an offer sheet to restricted free agent Matthew Tkachuk? (Broad Street Hockey)

• Why aren’t the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final? Here are five reasons. (Tampa Bay Times)

• Now that Nikita Zaitsev wants out of Toronto, what does that mean for the rest of the group? (Toronto Star)

• Find out why draft history isn’t on the side of Jack Hughes or the New Jersey Devils. (New York Post)

• It’s been a long time since the St. Louis Blues have hosted a game in the Stanley Cup Final. A lot has happened since then. (St. Louis Game-Time)

David Perron deserves to be made a healthy scratch, per Bleedin’ Blue blog. (Bleedin’ Blue)

• Craig Berube doesn’t agree with a lot of the calls made against his team in the Stanley Cup Final. (ESPN)

• Tuukka Rask has had some goofy interviews with Finnish media. (Sportsnet)

• The perfection line kicked into gear for the Bruins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. (NBC Sports Boston)

• The NHL Draft really starts when the Los Angeles Kings pick at no. 5. (The Score)

• Rick Bowness could be an intriguing option to be the next head coach for the Anaheim Ducks. (Anaheim Calling)

• The Maple Leafs and Kings have reportedly discussed a trade involving Patrick Marleau. (Leafs Nation)

• Here’s how a Punjabi hockey announcer is changing hockey. (Deadspin)

• The chance to be with a hockey team day-to-day was too much of a thrill for Dave Tippett to pass up. (Seattle Times)

• After leaving the Buffalo Sabres in December, Patrik Berglund says he’ll play hockey next year. (Yahoo)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.