Shortly after Johnny Gaudreau’s departure, it became crystal clear to Calgary Flames fans that Matthew Tkachuk was their team’s next star to be gone. The 24-year-old informed Brad Treliving that he was not interested in signing a long-term deal, forcing the hand of the Flames’ general manager. Due to the tricky situation they were in, Flames fans feared their team would be forced to give up Tkachuk for a rather underwhelming return. Thankfully, that wasn’t remotely close to being the case.
On Friday evening, Flames fans were overjoyed to see that, while moving on from Tkachuk, they were able to obtain Jonathan Huberdeau, Mackenzie Weegar, Cole Schwindt, and a conditional 2025 first-round pick. This trade was one of the biggest blockbusters the NHL has had in some time and one that most are viewing as a massive win for Calgary. After all, they are not only getting a 115-point scorer in Huberdeau but are also adding a top pairing defenceman in Weegar, as well as a promising prospect in Schwindt and a potential first-round draft pick.
All that said, however, it is important to note that both Huberdeau and Weegar each have just one season remaining on their contracts. Despite both already stating they are open to signing extensions, both Gaudreau and Tkachuk recently proved that what a player says versus what a player is thinking, are two different things. Because of that, Treliving will have some more tricky decisions to make in the near future, particularly in regard to Huberdeau.
Huberdeau a Top-End Talent
Given how elite of a player he is, no one expected the Panthers to part ways with Huberdeau this summer. After all, he is not only coming off of a year in which he tied Gaudreau for second in the scoring race but is fourth in points throughout the entire NHL over the past four seasons with 346, trailing only Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Patrick Kane. Whether it was his disappointing playoff showing this past year or perhaps an unwillingness to sign a contract extension, the Panthers’ front office decided it was time to part ways.
Acquiring Huberdeau as well as Weegar means that the Flames are not willing to enter a rebuild, something many, myself included, thought may be the best plan of attack. It appears Treliving had other thoughts, however, and he was able to pull off one of the most impressive deals we have seen in some time. While losing Gaudreau for nothing still stings, this move will undoubtedly keep the Flames competitive for the 2022-23 season.
Extending Huberdeau Involves Risk
While Flames fans are thrilled with the acquisition of Huberdeau, it remains to be seen just how long he will remain with the organization. Shortly after being traded, rumors already began to swirl that Treliving may look to ship him elsewhere in an attempt to load up with young players and/or picks and prospects for the future. Given his elite-level status around the league, he would certainly command a big haul on the trade market.
With his offensive production over the past four seasons, Huberdeau could command at least $10 million on his next deal, which is a huge rise in pay from his current deal in which he earns $5.9 million annually. The decision on whether or not to pay him that much is one that Treliving will need to think long and hard about. After all, he would be 30 years old by the time the deal were to kick in, meaning that if he did receive an eight-year deal, he would still be under that same contract at the age of 38. Despite how elite of a player he is now, there is a chance for regression around the mid-way point of that deal.
As briefly touched on as well, despite Huberdeau stating he is open to re-signing in Calgary, whether or not that is simply just lip service remains to be seen. Both Gaudreau and Tkachuk stated at season’s end that they would love to sign long-term deals with the Flames but clearly had other thoughts. One would imagine that, at the least, the 29-year-old Huberdeau would like to try living in the city for at least a few months before committing long-term.
Tkachuk Trade a Massive Win Regardless of Huberdeau’s Future
Regardless of what ends up happening down the road, this trade was a fantastic one for Treliving. After what started out as a horrendous offseason, this move has rejuvenated the Flames fanbase and has them chomping at the bit for the 2022-23 season to begin.
For now, the hope amongst the majority of the Flames fanbase is that they are able to get Huberdeau, as well as Weegar, re-signed. There is a risk in re-signing Huberdeau as mentioned above, which is something Treliving will need to consider before offering a lengthy extension. If he, or perhaps Huberdeau himself decide not to do an extension, he can be moved for plenty of assets between now and the 2023 trade deadline. Either way, the Flames are in great shape given the situation they were in at this time last week.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.