As the preseason continues, Matthew Tkachuk remains unsigned. With the Flames only carrying about 6.34M in cap space, it still looks like money will have to be moved if the Flames want to sign him to a long term deal. A number of other big name RFA’s have signed, and it looks like Calgary will need to get creative to make things work.
There have been a number of options kicked around over the summer about how Calgary can free up space, but the one that still seems to make the most sense is finding a new home for T.J. Brodie. You’ll recall that Brodie had been part of a package in a trade with Toronto during the summer that was ultimately shot down by Nazem Kadri.
Brodie has one year left on his current contract and carries a cap hit of 4.654M this year. He’s a pending unrestricted free agent, and with the other pending free agents (Hamonic) along with prospects pushing their way up, the likelihood of Brodie re-signing seems slim. At the same time, the cost of being a contender in the NHL is having to let guys walk sometimes in hopes that they can get you to the promised land before then.
Brodie’s role shrank towards the end of last season as rookie defenseman Rasmus Andersson started eating into his top pairing minutes. If Andersson does that again, does it really make sense to keep Brodie if he’s playing on the third pairing? Brodie is the only NHL regular heading to Winnipeg for tonight’s pre-season game, so does that say anything?
The next question is how much room would Calgary need to create from a trade? I doubt they would need the full ~11M that would be opened up by a Brodie for picks deal. Let’s say Tkachuk signs an 5 year deal at 8M per year. The Flames could then bring back a player in the deal along with other assets.
Obviously Brodie’s value is going to be down because teams know Calgary HAS to make a move to fit Tkachuk in long term. Here are a few teams that a Brodie trade could work with:
The Devils geared up big time for this year in an effort to get Taylor Hall to stay in New Jersey after this season. The team acquired P.K. Subban via trade, acquired Russian star Nikita Gusev, drafted Jack Hughes first overall, and signed Wayne Simmonds.
New Jersey is still roughly 6.5M under the cap heading into the season. Could adding another top four calibre defender in Brodie help them return to the playoffs?
If I was looking at making a trade with New Jersey, I’d be looking at one of Mirco Mueller or Connor Carrick as depth defenders that could elevate to a bigger role in the event of injury. Mueller (RFA) is signed for one year at 1.4M while Carrick (UFA) is signed for two years at 1.5M. Both players signed their new contracts this past July.
Along with one of the aforementioned defenders, the Flames could look to snag a forward prospect from the Devils pool as New Jersey is light on mid round picks the next few years. I would look at someone like Brandon Gignac, a 21 year old C prospect or Mikhail Maltsev, a 21 year old LW/C currently playing in Russia. To finish it off, maybe Calgary could grab a 5th round pick for 2022 that turns into a 3rd if Brodie re-signs in New Jersey or something like that.
This is a new entry on the list with the rumors swirling that Dustin Byfuglien may be considering retirement. If he retired, that would open up an additional 7.6M on the Jets books for this year. Prior to this news, the Jets had about 15.5M in cap space, but most of that will be eaten up by re-signing Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor. A Byfuglien departure would certainly open a hole on the Jets blue line, especially because they also dealt Jacob Trouba to New York during the offseason.
In terms of what Calgary could be going for, they could just try to add an average prospect, along with maybe a 2nd and another mid-late round pick. Winnipeg doesn’t really have any NHL assets that would make sense to take back, so grabbing a few other pieces and then potentially flipping them closer to the deadline might make more sense, along with adding the extra cap space right now if you want to go really long term with Tkachuk.
The Minnesota Wild are a very interesting team heading into 2019-20. They are on their third different general manager in the last 16 months, and the team continues to be hamstrung by the colossal contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Minnesota is trying to recover from some ill-advised moves from Paul Fenton, as they try to find a new direction for the franchise. For most of the decade, they’ve been the definition of mediocrity, typically making the playoffs but falling in Round 1. They missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years last season.
Since being named GM on August 21, Bill Guerin hasn’t had any real opportunity to put his own touch on the roster. Perhaps trading for Brodie could be a move for the Wild to make if they want to get back into the playoff discussion this year.
My thought for a trade could be the Flames sending Brodie in exchange for Greg Pateryn (2 years left at 2.25M) and a third round pick in 2021 that moves to a 2nd if Brodie re-signs. Pateryn is a responsible defensive defenceman that dressed in 80 games for Minnesota last year and 73 for Dallas the year before. He’s nothing flashy, but would provide some stability on the third pairing, something I think the Flames are still searching for evidenced by bringing back Michael Stone and giving Andrew MacDonald a PTO.
4. Dallas Stars
As things stand right now, the Stars only have 970k in cap space, but quite a bit will be opened up when Martin Hanzal and Marc Methot go to LTIR. The Stars have a pretty good core, but they’re starting to get older so this might be one of their last years to make a run with this group. Dallas made it to the 2nd round last year before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the 2nd Round.
One player the Flames could look to take back would be Julius Honka. Honka is still an RFA and has reportedly requested a trade out of Dallas. After being selected 14th overall in 2014, Honka has really struggled to put it all together at the NHL level, dressing in only 29 games last year. Perhaps the Flames could find him a role on their bottom pairing to try and stabilize him a bit. Calgary could also look to grab a 2nd or 3rd round pick for 2021 in the trade as well.
This is the team that I’ve felt for most of the offseason made the most sense as trade partners. Montreal has a shade over 4M in cap space and will get more when they likely bury Karl Alzner and a few others in the AHL. The Canadiens were reportedly one of the final teams involved in the Jake Gardiner sweepstakes before he signed with Carolina.
The Habs are still looking for a partner for Shea Weber on their top pairing so Brodie could fit the bill on the left side. Montreal is coming off a season where they overachieved and missed the playoffs by two points, so a step back could be coming. Acquiring Brodie could be seen as a way to try and avoid that.
Calgary could bring back Mike Reilly, a 6/7 Dman who played 57 games for Montreal last year, and a pick or two as Montreal is fairly pick-rich the next few years.
Ultimately all of this will come down to what the Flames end up signing Tkachuk for, and if this is the best course of action to take.
Do you think T.J. Brodie should be the player traded to make cap space?
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