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Should Bruins pursue Flames star?

Should Bruins pursue Flames star Matthew Tkachuk on the trade market? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Calgary Flames.

First-line right winger Johnny Gaudreau left the Flames in free agency and surprisingly signed a seven-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He reportedly turned down more money from Calgary.

The pain might not be over for Flames fans just yet.

Matthew Tkachuk, a 24-year-old left wing who tallied a career-high 104 points (42 goals, 62 assists) in 82 games last season, has told the Flames he’s not re-signing with them, per The Athletic. Tkachuk is a restricted free agent.

If Tkachuk is actually available, should the Bruins pursue him?

The short answer is yes.

The Bruins only have two players under 30 on their NHL roster with star talent — defenseman Charlie McAvoy and right winger David Pastrnak. Other prominent players such as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall are all 30 years of age or older.

Tkachuk is an elite offensive player and plays with the sort of truculence that Bruins fans appreciate. He’d be an excellent fit in Boston and help usher in a new era of B’s ​​hockey with McAvoy and Pastrnak.

The issue for the Bruins is that just about every team in the league can outbid them for Tkachuk if the return package is built around prospects and draft picks. Boston has one of the league’s worst prospect pools — 27th out of 32 in The Athletic’s latest ranking from February. The Bruins also did not make a first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft earlier this month, and they are without a second-round pick in each of the next two years.

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Aside from McAvoy and Pastrnak, the Bruins don’t have many appealing trade chips to pull off a deal for a player of Tkachuk’s caliber.

Another hurdle for the Bruins is that they have just $4.75 million in salary cap space, which would not be enough to sign Tkachuk to an extension. They’d have to clear cap space to make it work.

For these reasons, and others, it’s hard to envision the Bruins being a serious player in the Tkachuk sweepstakes — assuming he’s actually traded. It’s a tough position for the Bruins, one that was created largely as a result of poor drafting and development.