The Flames went into the off-season after a disappointing second-round washout against the vastly inferior Edmonton Oilers. They also went into the off-season with a couple of huge question marks. Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau are both star players who needed new contracts. Gaudreau is one of the best wingers in the game, and both he and Tkachuk had over 100-point seasons. Tkachuk is a young agitator who has the potential to become the next super pest of the league. He is a player who forces you to take a penalty against him and then scores on that powerplay. However early in free agency, Gaudreau signed with Columbus, and it was announced that Tkachuk had requested a trade. It looked like the Flames’ success last season could be over as soon as it started. Two of their top-tier talents at forward were leaving, two pieces of their core would no longer be there.
Brad Treliving, the General Manager of the Flames, has come under fire in the past for his inability to build a successful playoff team, and after the failure to re-sign Gaudreau and Tkachuk, many were putting him on the list of GMs to be fired. That was until he pulled off the biggest fleece of the off-season. Treliving traded Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers for Jonathan Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar. The trade included some futures, but the roster players will be the focus of this article. To say the Flames won the trade would be an understatement. Huberdeau was a top finisher for the Art Ross and in consideration for the Hart. Weegar had a breakout season and was one of the most significant pieces of Florida’s blue line. Florida also had to extend Tkachuk a contract offer and re-signed the young winger to a contract with a 9.5 million dollar cap hit. So now the Panthers have the absolutely horrific 10 million Sergei Bobrovsky deal and another 10 million against the cap with the Tkachuk signing.
Looking at the trade on paper, it makes sense for the Panthers to exchange Huberdeau for Tkachuk. Both are capable forwards who can put up many points; Tkachuk is younger and still outside his prime, making his upside far higher than Huberdeau. However, the inclusion of Weegar in this deal makes the Flames the clear winner. The Panthers got no defenseman in return, especially of Weegar’s caliber. Weegar had one of the top defensive WARs in the league last year and his 3.25 million cap hit looks modest for his skill set. He was a very crucial piece on Florida’s blue line. Florida’s goaltending, as stated earlier, is unreliable at best. Bobrovsky is incredibly over paid and the definition of a hot-cold goalie. Their other option in net is Spencer Knight, who is fresh out of college and has bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL. The Panthers need a solid d-core to make up for their question mark in net. While the Flames’ defense core last season was solid, it was not particularly deep or star-studded, but their goalie Jacob Markstrom is a legitimate world beater. After this trade, the Flames’ defense core looks better, while their goaltending situation remains the same.
So why did Florida agree to this deal? That is for only Treliving and Florida GM, Bill Zito, to know.
The Matthew Tkachuk trade allowed the Flames to undo the damage done by half their first line leaving, but Treliving’s off-season was far from over. The Flames traded away Sean Monahan, who had long been the first-line center. This year he dropped in the line-up, and it had been apparent for the past two seasons that he was not skilled enough to take the Flames up a competitive notch. Trading away Monahan to Montreal opened up crucial cap space for the Flames. Nazem Kadri, a top free agent, was signed to the Flames using the cap space cleared by the Monahan trade. The Kadri signing added more skill and depth down the middle for the Flames, completely negating the loss of Monahan.
Treliving was in the hot seat to start the off-season, but he took action instead of sitting still and letting his team fall apart offensively. He recouped a top offensive asset in Huberdeau in exchange for Tkachuk, traded away Monahan, making space to sign Kadri, and strengthened the blue line with Weegar. It was enough to remove Treliving from the hot seat and an excellent example of what a GM should do when talent leaves. The Flames head into next season without two of their best players from the 2021-22 season but still look just as formidable on paper.
Hi! I’m Maeve. I am a Sophomore at Regis University. Hockey is my favorite sport and my passion. While I am a diehard Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Six fan, I really just love the sport of hockey in general and enjoy covering it. I started writing about hockey when I became the sole sports writer for my University’s paper and provided coverage of the Avalanche and broader NHL. When I am not watching hockey or writing, I enjoy reading, playing with my cat, listening to music/podcasts, and singing.
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