It’s not a stretch to say that the Nashville Predators are back on the verge of Stanley Cup contention. The league-wide surprise of their 2021-2022 campaign so far has been well-documented, and once a few of their youngsters settle into top six roles, they might have the roster to finally get over the top.
That being said, the Nashville Predators might have a chance to make themselves even better in the near future. Matthew Tkachuk is due for a contract extension after this season, and reportedly has reservations about signing long-term with the Calgary Flames.
Better yet, Nashville is one of the places that he might be willing to commit to.
The Predators certainly don’t need Tkachuk in order to satisfy their long term goals, but he would be a fit for what they are trying to accomplish right now. There would be some hurdles to overcome to make this happen, but General Manager David Poile would be hard pressed to not at least look into it.
Furthermore, the Nashville Predators have one of the best cap situations in the league right now. According to Spotrac, the Predators have the fourth-most cap space in the NHL at over S10.9M currently. Point being, they have room to make a bold addition if they choose, but should they?
Why Tkachuk fits with Nashville Predators
Tkachuk checks all the boxes that the Predators want with their players both right now and in the future. For starters, he is only 24-years-old and statistically speaking, is in the best season of his career. The “youth movement” that they are on would be given a shot in the arm if he were brought into the lineup.
Secondly, he would bring the edge that the Predators like to see in their players. His ability to be physical and get under other players’ skin would make a difference, and it would add the element to the top six as well as the bottom six.
There is zero doubt that Tkachuk would make them a harder team to play against.
Not only that, but at least in the short term, this is a move that the Predators would be financially able to make. Even if the salary cap stays flat next season, they have over $10M of available space, which would be enough to accommodate the $9M-$10M per year deal that Tkachuk is seeking.
With other players’ contracts expiring as well, the Predators would almost definitely be able to make room for both him and Filip Forsberg, who’s future in Nashville still hangs in the balance.
They can make it happen this way, but that does not mean it would be optimal.
Bringing in Tkachuk would complicate things
Let’s get one thing right — if the Predators end up making a trade for Tkachuk, they are going to extend him. They just are not going to part with several assets for a rental who is going to be a restricted free agent in the coming offseason, especially when their team is as young as it is.
Tkachuk isn’t coming to Nashville without firmly being in their long-term plans, and we should not sugarcoat that it would put them in a dicey cap situation moving forward.
Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene are already on lucrative deals, and of course, the Predators are going to want to bring Forsberg back. Add Tkachuk to the mix, and there is just no way they could keep everyone.
The ideal situation would be for the Predators to trade Johansen, but trading his $8M per year contract would be tough. Not only that, but trading him this year would leave their second line center position unfilled, and Tomasino, as skilled as he is, is not ready to take on that role this early in his career. And there is nobody else on the roster who realistically could.
The ideal situation would be for the Predators to acquire Tkachuk this year and trade Johansen in the offseason, but they cannot rely on that happening by any means.
Besides draft picks and a prospect or two, they could look to deal Luke Kunin to facilitate the trade, but I personally would hate to see him go.
It is no secret that this would be a tough trade to pull off, but it definitely would be possible. That is why Poile should at least look into it.