The 2022 NHL draft is upon us, and that means there’s all sorts of hockey headlines to break down. In this edition of Screen Shots, we’ll take a look at a few of those headlines. Let’s get to it:
– Rumors began to rumble Thursday that the Calgary Flames might be looking to move star winger and restricted free agent Matthew Tkachuk. Naturally, some people considered the possibility the Flames would unite Tkachuk with his brother, Brady, in Ottawa. In some ways, that makes sense, as Ottawa has the seventh-overall pick in this year’s draft, and the Tkachuk brothers have repeatedly expressed that they’d enjoy playing on the same team.
The problem with this scenario is it doesn’t address who the Flames are at this moment in their competitive cycle. They’re not a rebuilding organization who can take their time with a young prospect. They’re built for the present, and if they even considered dealing Matthew Tkachuk, it’s very likely Calgary GM Brad Treliving would want veteran assets that can help them win playoff games right away.
This is why a more likely scenario would involve Matthew Tkachuk and the St. Louis Blues. The Tkachuk’s father, famous former NHLer Keith Tkachuk, raised his sons in St. Louis and there’s little doubt Matthew would object to being dealt to a team that gave the Stanley Cup-champion Colorado Avalanche a very tough time. Moreover, the Blues could offer Calgary a star winger who could step in right away and deliver a lot of offense: star winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who still wants a trade out of Missouri.
Now 30 years old, Tarasenko has had health concerns in recent years, but he battled through them last season and wound up scoring 34 goals and 82 points in 75 games. That’s close to what Matthew Tkachuk (42 goals, 104 points in 82 games) produced last season, and Tarasenko’s salary of $7.5 million is in the same area of Tkachuk’s ($7 million). The 24-year-old will get a considerable raise for the 2022-23 campaign, but if the Flames used the money they’ll save in a Tarasenko/Tkachuk move to help them retain superstar forward and unrestricted free agent Johnny Gaudreau, it will be money well spent, and Calgary’s offensive attack will be about as potent as it was last season.
Tarasenko is scheduled to be a UFA next summer, but Treliving would have all season to convince him to stick around and remain a Flame in the long-term. And the Blues would have a young player coming off his best NHL season and a competitor who doesn’t want out the way Tarasenko does. There’s a good fit here for both sides, and Blues GM Doug Armstrong has proven he’s not afraid to make big moves. So don’t be shocked if a deal involving Matthew Tkachuk and Tarasenko becomes a reality. There’s pressure to win in both Calgary and St. Louis, and a move like this one would help each team try and achieve their ultimate goal.
– It was extremely refreshing to see the San Jose Sharks hire longtime NHLer and hockey lifer Mike Grier as their new GM this week. Diversity in the league is important, and although all teams can pay lip service to the notion the sport needs more minorities in prominent positions, it’s the ones who actually go ahead and hire non-Caucasian males that are backing up their words.
Grier now has to stabilize a franchise that dismissed head coach Bob Boughner last week, and that is searching for a winning identity with a graying core of talent and not enough prized prospects to signal a bright future. It’s probably going to be a season without playoffs again for San Jose, but Grier’s smarts and driven personality will give them a solid foundation on which to build a Cup contender.
– Finally, our sincere condolences to the family, friends and former teammates of former NHL defenseman Bryan Marchment, who died Wednesday in Montreal. The 53-year-old had been working as a scout for the Sharks, and was in Montreal for the draft.
While the cause of his death is unknown, it doesn’t matter for the teammates he battled for or the family he supported. He was a fierce competitor who didn’t mind being painted as “the bad guy”, and although his game would’ve had to have changed in today’s NHL, he was smart enough and had sufficiently-solid on-ice instincts to have still thrived in this era of the sport.
After his retirement as a player in 2006, Marchment was still visible in his hometown of Toronto. In fact, right beside The Hockey News’ offices in Toronto in the early aughts, Marchment was seen regularly in area stores. This writer recognized him immediately on one occasion and introduced himself to Marchment, who seemed surprised to be noticed, despite playing for the Maple Leafs in his penultimate NHL season. That’s a credit to Torontonians who appreciated his privacy, and to Marchment for being so humble. The hockey world is lesser for losing him, especially at such a young age.