The Philadelphia Flyers still need a star player to build around and draw fans.
Matthew Tkachuk would have been the perfect player to fit that description.
Ah, but Florida swooped in and acquired the 6-foot-2, 202-pound left winger late Friday night in a mega-deal with Calgary.
The Panthers traded high-scoring left winger Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, AHL forward Cole Schwindt and a lottery-protected 2025 No. 1 draft pick to Calgary for Tkachuk and a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2025.
Nice haul, if …
Calgary got a nice haul — if it can re-sign Huberdeau, 29, and Weegar, 28, each of whom can become unrestricted free agents after the upcoming season.
Tkachuk may not have been willing to sign a long-term deal with the Flyers like he did with the Panthers — eight years, with an annual $9.5 million cap hit.
Earlier this month, left winger Alex DeBrincat was available. But he got traded from Chicago to Ottawa for first- (seventh overall) and second-round (39th overall) picks this year, and a 2024 third-rounder.
The Flyers should have offered more, but only if they could have signed the 24-year-old DeBrincat to a long-term deal. Maybe GM Chuck Fletcher tried and was nixed. Maybe.
DeBrincat has one year left on a contract that carries a $6.4 million cap hit.
Johnny Gaudreau is another star left winger who was available. But he signed a seven-year deal with Columbus — Columbus! – with an annual $9.75 million cap hit.
Fletcher should have cleared enough cap space and matched that offer because Gaudreau, who turns 29 next month, is a six-time All-Star who wanted to come home to Philly.
And then another left winger who would have fit on the Philadelphia Flyers better than DeBrincat or Gaudreau — Tkachuk — became available.
But the Flyers came up empty there, too.
Again, maybe Tkachuk wouldn’t have signed an extension here, so it’s not like the Gaudreau situation.
Still, Flyers fans are balking because other teams continue to make bold moves this summer, while Philly has done little.
Tkachuk is not only a scorer (42 goals, 104 points last season), but he plays with an edge. The Flyers need help in both of those areas. Significantly.
Oh, and he’s only 24.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) July 22, 2022
Devils make pitch
National Hockey Now confirmed with an NHL executive this week that the Devils offered Calgary the second overall pick in the recent draft, a roster player, and a prospect for Tkachuk.
Calgary rejected the offer. The Flames then got a better package from the Panthers.
Could the Philadelphia Flyers have matched or topped it?
It depends on whether Huberdeau and Weegar re-sign or become UFAs and head elsewhere in one season. The Flyers could have offered players who are on long-term deals.
Wait. The Flyers have no cap space. So how could they have fit Tkachuk onto their roster?
Here’s how …
A few hours before the trade went down, I had finished a column urging Fletcher to go after Tkachuk. The story was scheduled to run early Saturday morning.
Then the trade happened. “Call rewrite!” as they used to say during the days of copy boys, typewriters, and a “-30-” symbol to signify the end of a story.
Anyway, I proposed the Flyers offer defenseman Ivan Provorov ($6.75 million cap hit) and right winger Travis Konecny ($5.5 million) for Tkachuk — assuming they could sign him to a long-term deal with, say, a $9.5 million annual cap hit. (Which is just what Florida did.)
Konecny and Provorov are each signed for three more seasons.
At the very least, offering Provorov and Konecny would have been a good starting point, and a future Flyers No. 1 draft pick (but not the one in the deep 2023 draft) could have been included if Calgary added a young defenseman who was NHL-ready.
There are no guarantees the Flames would have taken that offer over Florida’s. But here’s hoping Fletcher was at least pitching some proposal.
Provorov is a good player who has a chance to be an All Star someday. Konecny is a second-line type with 25-goal potential.
Tkachuk is a budding superstar, the perfect player to build a young team around.
Now Florida, which has plenty of other talent, can do just that.