CALGARY -- Matthew Tkachuk signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. It has an average annual value of $7 million.
"This is an exciting time, and for the business part to be over, business went great and it was a great process, but you get to play," Tkachuk said. "That's what we love to do. We're competitors and we want to get on the ice, and now I have a chance to do that.
"Now I'm relieved being here. It was a good process. Obviously, it took a little bit longer than maybe a lot of people wanted, but I thought it went well. I think once [training] camp hit, what we wanted to do was make sure we were here for Game 1, and now we might get a preseason game in. It's a bonus."
Tkachuk, who was a restricted free agent, had NHL career highs in goals (34), assists (43) and points (77) in 80 games with the Flames last season, and had three points (two goals, one assist) in five Stanley Cup Playoff games. The 21-year-old forward is the youngest player in Flames history to reach 100 points in the NHL.
"When our season broke up in April and the question was asked about the summer to-do list, the No. 1 thing at that time and remained throughout the summer was getting Matthew signed," Calgary general manager Brad Treliving said. "It took longer than we all hoped, but when you're talking about a player at this level … when you're talking about the summer we went through, which was a unique summer in the industry … the hope and excitement was always about that day we could sit and say that it's done. It's done."
The Flames (50-25-7) finished first in the Western Conference in 2018-19 but lost to the Colorado Avalanche in five games in the Western Conference First Round. They return almost the same lineup this season.
"The best-case scenario happened where there isn't one guy that had to be moved in this process," Tkachuk said. "That was a fear. You never want to see that happen. We had such a great team last year and we brought in pieces that made us that much better and can be more successful in the postseason.
"We could've done a longer term, however many years, but this was the deal that was going to keep the number within the [$81.5 million NHL salary cap], and to me, we have such a great group here, so many great guys. I want to win with this group. I went to too many Stanley Cup parties, being from St. Louis, this summer, and every time you go to them you think of how great it would be to do it with this group.
"You can go through the whole lineup. Everybody brings something different to the table and this is a team that can hopefully give a great run and hopefully get the job done. That's the goal going into every season, but with the buzz around our team right now with what I think we have, we'll see. It's exciting. It's exciting times in Calgary."
Tkachuk, selected by Calgary with the No. 6 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, has 174 points (71 goals, 103 assists) in 224 regular-season games and three points in nine playoff games for the Flames.
"He's a real competitive guy and his hockey sense, and he's probably got an underrated skill set," Calgary coach Bill Peters said. "He's got real good skill. People talk about his grit and ability at the net front, but some of the plays he makes down low are unreal. He's a valuable member of our team, and we're excited to have him."
Tkachuk is the latest from a group of high-profile restricted free agent forwards to sign this month.
Mitchell Marner agreed to a six-year, $65.358 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sept. 14. Brock Boeser agreed to a three-year, $17.625 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Sept. 16. Brayden Point signed a three-year, $20.25 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.
Forwards Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche and Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets are among the remaining restricted free agents with the NHL regular season starting Oct. 2.