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Friday Deadline May Indicate Tkachuk’s True Intentions

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It’s safe to say most agree the Calgary Flames’ top priority is signing of Matthew Tkachuk.

But if the status of that task was an old Facebook relationship status, it would be “it’s complicated.”

In the wake of the Johnny Gaudreau Gamble, both the franchise and its fans are feeling a little stung. The loss of their 115-point forward to the Columbus Blue Jackets in free agency with no compensation coming back to the Calgary Flames shows what can happen when a negotiation is left too long – even though GM Brad Treliving and others around the league truly believed a deal would get done.

We’ve already written about the importance of the Calgary Flames signing Tkachuk. With 42 goals and 104 points, he’s their best offensive weapon remaining. And he’s no one-dimensional player, either.

But that can only happen if Tkachuk wants to be here long-term.

Many may be wondering how people outside the negotiations (perhaps even inside, given what happened with Gaudreau) will know if that’s truly the case. Aside from a contract being signed and delivered.

This week will go a long way in illustrating Tkachuk’s intentions, and his choice not to file for arbitration was just the first step. That move keeps him eligible for offer sheets, which are a sample of what UFA status would be like. Tkachuk can negotiate term and dollars with other teams and force the Flames’ hand in matching a lucrative deal or letting him go and taking the compensation.

He’s also got that $9-million qualifying offer sitting in front of him until Friday’s league deadline, although that is somewhat irrelevant. Tkachuk can choose to reject it and remain a free agent until his entire NHL season is at risk on Dec. 1, 2022, if he remains unsigned.

Brother Brady Tkachuk held out throughout training camp. He ultimately signed a seven-year deal worth $57.5 million as the last RFA to sign last season. Just before the Ottawa Senators’ season opener.

If Matthew Tkachuk signs his qualifying offer before Friday, he can leave the Calgary Flames as an unrestricted free agent next July and will almost certainly be traded during the coming season.

There would be one more bargaining period between Jan. 1, 2023 and the NHL trade deadline if Tkachuk isn’t dealt before then. But his maximum return value likely begins to drop once the season begins.

Treliving has said in no uncertain terms he wants to get Tkachuk signed to a long-term deal. Tkachuk said he was open to it when addressing the media at the end of the playoffs.

“Absolutely,” Tkachuk said when asked if he’d be open to signing a long-term deal to stay with the Calgary Flames. “I’ve loved it here. I’ve grown up here. The more I think about It, I came here and didn’t really know anything about Calgary. I didn’t know anything about Western Canada. My mom’s from Winnipeg, so I guess that’s as far west as I knew and kind of just fell in love with it here.

“So, yeah, to answer your question, I would be very open (to a long-term deal).”

Then again, Gaudreau had similar things to say. And now that he’s gone, has any of that changed? Only Tkachuk’s camp — and maybe Treliving — know.

We can only guess, but Tkachuk failing to sign that qualifying offer this week and holding out for a long-term deal would be the best indication he is hoping to stick around.

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