Flames' Matthew Tkachuk to be Traded?

First Johnny Gaudreau, now Matthew Tkachuk?

According to Eric Francis of Sportsnet, he expects Tkachuk to be traded within the week.

The Flames filed to take Tkachuk to salary arbitration Monday and, while this could be interpreted as nothing to note, it's not like the team would do so to prevent having to pay Tkachuk his $9 million qualifying offer. Fresh off a career-high season, Tkachuk would have no problem making that money on the open market. 

The most obvious reason this was done by the Flames is to prevent an offer sheet from teams, but not even that is a likely thing to happen. It's more likely that the Flames did this to buy time, time to find a good trade partner, and a solid return for their star player. 

The reason the offer sheet wouldn't happen is because an offer between $8.4 million-$10.5 million for Tkachuk would lose that team two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a third-round pick for just a one-year deal. 

Also, any deal over $10.5 million would give the Flames four first-round picks.

It's yet unknown if Tkachuk has indicated that he does not intend on re-signing with the Flames next year, but it would not be surprising as there have been rumours about this for years. With the departure of Gaudreau as well, a return to his homeland south of the border might sound appealing to the twenty-four year old.

Arbitration hearings don't begin until July 27,  run until August 11, and if Tkachuk chooses to go through them he won't be able to negotiate a new contract until Jan. 1, 2023. 

Thus, a trade seems the most likely route the Flames will take here. 

All of this does not prevent Tkachuk from signing a long-term extension with the Flames, this is all merely speculation. However, with the amount of time the Flames have had to negotiate an extension and the fact it hasn't happened makes it appear more and more likely that Matthew Tkachuk's time in Calgary has come to an end. 

 Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports