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On Matthew Tkachuk's next contract and Sam Bennett's finishing

September 11, 2019, 12:12 PM ET [46 Comments]
Todd Cordell
Calgary Flames Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
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We're just days away from preseason play and the Calgary Flames haven't yet found a way to extend star RFA Matthew Tkachuk.

​Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman shared a note on Tkachuk's contract status, as well as an interesting tidbit regarding Sam Bennett, ​in the latest edition of 31 Thoughts (as always, it's worth your time to read the article in full).

​I'm going to share each note, and my take, below.

​On Tkachuk:

The Avalanche seem willing to make Rantanen their highest-paid player, but don’t want him making, say, $4 million per year more than MacKinnon.

The dynamic is similar with Matthew Tkachuk in Calgary. A five-to-eight year term makes him the highest-paid Flame. Everyone understands that. But how much higher than Gaudreau and Mark Giordano is the question.

Tkachuk is going to blow by Gaudreau and Giordano in AAV. There is no way around that. Initially, I thought something like $8 million per on a max-length contract would make sense for both.

With the way the RFA market is shaping up, which is more favorable to the players than ever before, I'm doubting 8x8 would get it done. Players are making big, big money without giving up max term.

Unless the Flames are willing to start with a nine – they don't currently have the cap for that – I don't see Tkachuk signing for eight years.

My guess is Tkachuk ultimately comes in at ~$8 million per for *six* years and it gets done prior to the season.

On Bennett:

The Athletic’s Craig Custance reported Calgary’s Noah Hanifin tinkered with his one-timer at Darryl Belfry’s skills camp last month. He’s not the only Flame working on his finish. Another is Sam Bennett.

“I can do a better job of finishing opportunities,” he said. “Release points. Someone told me every time I shoot the puck it’s the same. Sometimes you need to mix it up, change the angle, change the release point, and I was working on that.”

This should be music to the ears of Flames fans. Sam Bennett is an elite chance generator. Yes, elite. He's essentially been glued to the 3rd line yet has recorded more 5v5 chances than David Pastrnak, Leon Draisaitl, Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, and Jack Eichel over the last two seasons. His goal totals don't hold a candle to any of those guys because finishing is a big time problem.

I doubt training with Belfry will turn him into Auston Matthews or Alex Ovechkin but even a slight improvement shooting the puck could make a noticeable difference given the rate he finds himself in quality scoring positions.

With Elias Lindholm and Tkachuk, among others, probably due for some shooting regression, getting more out of guys like Bennett is really important.

We'll see if he can provide it.

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