The National Hockey League’s (NHL) Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers pulled off one of the biggest blockbuster trades in recent memory last week. Calgary sent Matthew Tkachuk to the Panthers in exchange for Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt, and a conditional first-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft.
The fact Tkachuk was dealt wasn’t surprising considering he all but requested a trade, telling GM Brad Treviling that he didn’t intend on re-signing with the team past this upcoming season. Rather than allow another Johnny Gaudeau situation in which the team would lose a top-line forward for nothing, Calgary sought a deal for the rugged forward.
Tkachuk only gave Treliving a handful of places he would sign an extension, ultimately limiting his value. Yet, the fact the Calgary Flames received the package they did in exchange for Tkachuk should be considered a massive victory for the organization and fanbase, both of which have had a tough off-season.
Calgary Flames Received the Best Player in the Deal
Although the Panthers now have Tkachuk locked in for eight years at $76 million, the Calgary Flames absolutely won this trade. Tkachuk had a monster year last year with 104 points in 82 games and should thrive in Florida alongside Aleksander Barkov, but Huberdeau is the best player involved in the deal.
The former third overall pick of the Panthers in the 2011 NHL Draft recorded a career-best 115 points last season and even received MVP votes – he has the ninth-shortest odds to win MVP this season at +2500. Huberdeau also has a more proven track record of offensive production than Tkachuk and can drive a line by himself, whereas Tkachuk needs a gifted playmaker to replicate last season’s production.
They’ll Be Competitive This Season
After losing Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets in free agency and hearing the news that Tkachuk didn’t plan on re-signing, there was a lot of doom and gloom in Calgary. It seemed as though the only option was to blow it up and rebuild, which was disheartening after such an impressive season.
Instead, the Calgary Flames have ultimately replaced Gaudreau and Tkachuk with Huberdeau and cap space. There’s not many players left out there in free agency, although they could go after Nazem Kadri. Calgary tried to acquire him from the Toronto Maple Leafs two seasons ago. Huberdeau and Kadri isn’t that much of a drop off from Gaudreau and Tkachuk.
Calgary’s blue line is also much improved with the addition of Weegar. The 28-year-old posted a career-high 44 points last season and has the size and strength to be an effective shutdown defender.
Can Still Kickstart a Rebuild if Huberdeau Doesn’t Re-Sign
Both Huberdeau and Weegar only have one year left on their contracts, so it’s easy to see why the Panthers made the decision to include both in a trade. They’ll also make considerably more in their next contracts; Huberdeau is only earning $5.9 million this season, while Weegar is under contract for $3.25 million.
Calgary will have all year to convince both players to re-sign and, if they do, they’ll have won the trade by a long shot. Even if they can’t, they have the option to trade both players by the deadline and recoup a couple first round picks and prospects.
Not to mention, the Calgary Flames will also receive a 2025 first round pick from the Panthers. Schwindt, meanwhile, is a 21-year-old forward with decent potential. He recorded 40 points in 72 games last season with Florida’s AHL affiliate in Charlotte.
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