For Blues fans, especially fans of the team during the 2000s, Keith Tkachuk is beloved. Big Walt, who played for the Blues from 2001-2010, with a brief layover in Atlanta for the Thrashers’ failed 2007 playoff run, is a heart and soul guy. He cleared the crease and went to the front of the net with a level of dedication that saw him wind up with a fractured jaw and the nickname Puddin’. A worthy inductee into the US Hockey Hall of Fame, Tkachuk is a mentor to a new generation of Blues, and was in the alumni box as the Blues won their first Stanley Cup.
A fixture at the rink during Tkachuk’s time with the Blues were his two young sons, Matthew and Brady. Matthew, currently with the Calgary Flames, was born in 1997 in Scottsdale, AZ. Brady was born a couple years later, a year and a half before Tkachuk signed with the Blues. While born in Arizona, both of his boys were raised in St. Louis and both sons grew up very much immersed in the culture of the Blues. When Matthew was drafted in 2016 (6th overall) by the Flames, and when Brady was drafted in 2018 (4th overall) by the Senators, it was proud moments for their father but also for St. Louis.
If the opportunity arises, why not bring the boys home? Pipe dreams among hockey fans have been worse, and the Blues have had a few father-son combos over the years, such as the Stastnys, the McRaes, and the Crombeens. Doug Armstrong isn’t going to make any decisions based on what fans would like to see, or what the Tkachuk family would prefer, but there seems to be a perfect storm brewing with the Flames and Matthew right now.
This is very much the rumor stage, and could be being built up into a bigger issue than it really is. Tkachuk, if you remember, was a late arrival to Flames camp in 2019 due to contract negotiations.
The Flames third-highest scorer last season (16G, 27A), Tkachuk would be an instant upgrade on the Blues’ left hand side. If his preference is to come to the Blues, then it’s easily assumed that Armstrong is doing his due diligence. The question isn’t if the Blues would be a good fit, or if this is just pipe-dream free agency window shopping. The question isn’t a matter of want, it’s a matter of how.
The Flames will probably want a first round draft pick in the deal, and the Blues have one at 16th overall. They’ll have to send some salary back in the deal to get Tkachuk’s $7 million RFA deal to work with their current cap situation, even if a deal with Tkachuk means that there’s no space for Jaden Schwartz.
Sportsnet’s Shane O’Brien believes that the salary that the Blues will return to Calgary will take the form of Vladimir Tarasenko because the Blues are “ready to move on from him.” Tarasenko, who has had three shoulder surgeries, slumped last season on his return but showed some flashes of recovery down the line. Patience seems to be Doug Armstrong’s m.o. with Tarasenko for right now; he understands that this isn’t simply a player’s production slipping. Tarasenko’s issues are tied to injury. Something that Armstrong clearly has to take into consideration is Tkachuk’s production coupled with his youth versus a player like Tarasenko, who is not only aging, but who has been injured multiple times.
Armstrong has a lot of patience and he’s consistently believed in Tarasenko over the years. He’s aware of what the optics would be for fans if, just two years away from the Cup, the team is without former captain Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Tarasenko. Would fans forgive him trading Tarasenko if he gets a Tkachuk back in return?