Panthers’ Tkachuk Contract More Valuable Than Huberdeau’s

On July 22, the Florida Panthers shook up the free agency world by making arguably the biggest trade of the offseason, acquiring Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional fourth-round pick in exchange for forward Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, a 2025 first-round pick and prospect Cole Schwindt. Immediately after the trade, they signed Tkachuk to an eight-year deal worth $76 million, averaging $9.5 million per season.

Matthew Tkachuk Calgary Flames
Matthew Tkachuk finished last season with 104 points (42 goals, 62 assists) in 82 games with the Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

On Aug. 4, the Flames announced that they had extended Huberdeau for another eight seasons worth $84 million with an annual average of $10.5 million a year. With that, they locked in their potential replacement for Johnny Gaudreau after losing him to the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, as great as “Huby” is, the deal itself is not as valuable as the one Florida gave Tkachuk, despite them giving up a King’s ransom to land him.

Tkachuk’s Deal Saves More Money Annually and Overall

As seen above, Tkachuk’s deal is slightly cheaper overall by $8 million and $1 million cheaper per season than Huberdeau’s. The fact of the matter is that Huberdeau was not going to get the same type of deal that Aleksander Barkov got a couple of seasons ago from the Panthers.

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In the grand scheme of things, the Panthers managed to get an elite player signed long-term while also having their top forwards already locked up for at the very least next season along with saving a couple of dollars.

Tkachuk is Significantly Younger at the End of His Deal

At the end of both deals in 2030, Tkachuk will be 32 years of age, giving him much more energy left in the tank barring any serious injuries. By weight of comparison, Huberdeau will be 37 years of age at the end of his.

Jonathan Huberdeau Florida Panthers
Jonathan Huberdeau, now with the Flames, is coming off of his first career 100 point season, the first in Florida Panthers history. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Panthers are getting someone who just hit their prime and has a shot at keeping it going for a full eight years while Huberdeau could start contemplating retirement by the sixth or seventh season with the Flames. Even though his former teammate in Jaromir Jagr seemingly did, it is unknown if he can dodge Father Time just as well.

If It Goes South Early, Tkachuk’s Deal Is Easier to Get Out Of

Both players will have a full no-movement clause (NMC) within their deals starting next season. However, Huberdeau will have a modified no-trade clause carrying over from his current contract that will wrap up at the end of this season. As for Tkachuk, he has no big clauses that prohibit any sort of movement in 2022-23. In addition, although very unlikely for both parties, Huberdeau cannot be bought out of his new contract until next season. If it were to happen, the Flames would be eating a $7.9 million cap hit for four seasons and over $10 million for three seasons. As for Tkachuk’s contract, the Panthers would eat roughly $8.6 million per season for the entirety of the deal.

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Although it will be an absolute worst-case scenario, the Panthers have a better shot at getting out of Tkachuk’s deal early than the Flames do with Huberdeau’s contract.

The Tkachuk Deal is Valuable, But Will the Deal Pay Its Dividends?

Of course, no one knows who truly won the trade until both teams hit the ice this coming October. But the value that general manager Bill Zito is banking on is fantastic. In addition, the Panthers already have most of their top forwards locked up for at least the next couple of seasons.

However, this is still considered a very big gamble for the organization as it cost them arguably the face of the franchise. On the other hand, it can have a massive payout, and the trade itself announces that Zito is no longer playing games. He wants to see progress, or it could result in more trades like this one.

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