NHL trade notes: Panthers reach blockbuster deal for Matthew Tkachuk

The exchange

Panthers get: Forward Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional fourth-round pick

Flames get: Forward Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, forward Cole Schwindt and a conditional 2025 first-round pick

Dom Luszczyszyn: Wow.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

It’s a blockbuster in every sense of the word with two absolute superstars in every sense.

All year we were told that Jonathan Huberdeau was an MVP candidate, but it took several additions for him to be worth a real MVP candidate: Matthew Tkachuk.

We can debate all day which player is worth more, but the fact is that Tkachuk is younger and has a more complete game – it makes sense that Florida would want him for their future.

At the same time, Huberdeau MORE Mackenzie Weegar is a bridge too far. I don’t think it’s controversial to say that Tkachuk is the most valuable asset (especially when it comes to contractual considerations), but also adding a legitimate top pair defender is absolutely insane. Calgary, unleveraged, has done incredibly well here given the circumstances. Yes, Huberdeau and Weegar still have a year until unrestricted free agency (UFA) – but together they are worth more than Tkachuk alone. The Tkachuk extension helps of course, but wow. It’s a lot.

It speaks to the value the league shares for the three Tkachuk, Huberdeau and Weegar. But at the end of the day, Florida has had a superstar forward for eight years, and Calgary has two exceptional players as well. They both did well depending on how you look at it.

Calgary Note: A+
Florida ranking: B

Corey Pronman: Huberdeau was one of the best forwards in the NHL last season. He’s a player with elite skill, creativity and vision who can lead a power play with the best of them. He’s a competitive striker whose only real drawbacks are a lack of dangerous top gear and not being too physical. I don’t think Florida was 100% confident they could re-sign Huberdeau, even though it was a likely possibility. He was also quite disappointing in the playoffs last season.

Weegar has developed very well with Florida after being a mid-range pick. He is a very intelligent puck thrower with strong mobility and high motor skills. He’s a legitimate top-line defender who, like Huberdeau, is a UFA pending in 2023.

Cole Schwindt is a good-sized forward with some skill and scoring ability and a good work rate on the puck too. His skating is the big limitation with him. He’s produced a lot of offense this season in the AHL since he hasn’t had any time on the power play. He has a decent chance of being one of the final six strikers.

Tkachuk is one of the best young stars in the league. He’s an extremely skilful and creative winger who also has an elite work rate. He’s great in net, wins a lot of battles, and has an edge in his game. His only negative is a lack of real dangerous speed in the NHL, but everything else about his game is top notch. He also has a game that works very well in the playoffs.

Such a big part of scoring this deal will be Calgary’s ability to get either or both of Hubderdeau and Weegar extended. If they can, they’re back in business as the NHL’s top team for several years, adding two top NHL players after losing two to Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. If they don’t, they’re back to where they started. I’ll assume for the purposes of this article that they are able to find extensions for at least one of their two new Canadian stars.

Florida deals with UFA pending situations for Huberdeau and Weegar, where they were unlikely to sign both, and are able to turn that into a locked-in elite young forward. In doing so, they displace yet another first-round pick (you’ll see the Panthers on the first-round podium next in 2025 or 2026) but they’re clearly all with that core of players and still look like a Stanley Cup contender for the season. next.

Today, Calgary improved its team more than Florida. In the long run, Florida has likely improved its club further while remaining relevant as a competitor.

It’s one of the most fascinating professions of the salary cap era and it will be dissected for years to come. Points to both clubs for creativity and guts.

Calgary Flames: A-
Florida Panthers: B+

Shayna Goldman: I really try to wrap my brain around it. I expected Tkachuk to be traded, but to St. Louis or Dallas. Even Vegas felt possible because the Golden Knights always buy, then dump players later to clear the cap. But Florida! Good morning!

The Panthers saw their moves “all-in” at the deadline and kind of picked it up. They bring in an elite winger – rightfully one of the best in the league – and extend him for eight years. The Panthers are keeping their forward group stacked with a player who gives them more short and long-term value in Tkachuk. So they obviously walk away with this victory. Still, Panthers management has given up a ton here and lack the assets to take care of the rest of Florida’s roster.

The first question I had was where that left Huberdeau and his next contract in a year. Well, that leaves it in Calgary!

The Flames are seemingly determined to stay in the playoffs after losing two of their best forwards. Now Calgary is adding another elite passer and a high-end defender. The fact that the former isn’t exactly a defensive mainstay should suit the Flames’ system. If they can’t extend Huberdeau, that would be quite a gamble when they probably could have added players with more certainty elsewhere. But since it’s not the only highlight here, that makes it much more palatable. Instead, it’s Weegar, a first-round pick and prospect — it’s absolutely a win for the Flames when they didn’t have as much clout after it was established that the time to Tkachuk with the team would be limited.

Calgary Note: A
Florida ranking: B+

Sean Gentille: We’ve written thousands of words about Tkachuk’s future here in the past few days. Thousands more that were due to run on Saturday morning had to be scrapped. At no time – not from me, Dom, Hailey Salvian, Jeremy Rutherford, pick a name from a hat – did anyone chain “Maybe Brad Treliving can win this job.”

And yet, here we are, in the middle of the night. Turns out Treliving might win the trade. Turns out Treliving won the trade. It’s a rule of thumb that whoever gets the best player has the advantage. Rules are made to be broken. Tkachuk is better than Huberdeau. Tkachuk is better than Weegar. Tkachuk is better than Schwindt. Tkachuk is definitely better than a conditional first-round pick.

But Tkachuk is no better than a full Flames comeback. And frankly, it might not be that close. That doesn’t mean Florida lost here; Tkachuk immediately signed for less than he could have gotten on the open market, for the rest of his prime. That certainly doesn’t mean Tkachuk lost; he’s on a better team, in a tax-free state. Signing Huberdeau and Weegar was not a lock, especially given Florida’s (previous) cap situation. Tkachuk is signed, sealed and delivered until he is well into his thirties.

And the Calgary dub is not without its problems; Huberdeau, as productive as he is, is not a complete player on par with Tkachuk. He is a UFA after next season, and whether he stays is an open and very compelling question. The same goes for Weegar – but the facts are the facts. Huberdeau is an elite first line. Weegar is a first pair guy. The risk of losing them is worth the chance of you signing both, especially for Treliving, who seemed to be, shall we say, in the hot seat. Unreal work. A bet to take. Calgary, in a way, should always be a playoff team.

Calgary Note: A+
Florida ranking: B+

Hailey Salvian: Brad Treliving has been placed in an unenviable position this week – trying to earn a trade with a player like Tkachuk outgoing. But he may have just done so, at least in the short term. Yes, he’ll have to try to hold onto Huberdeau and Weegar (two UFAs next summer), but with his hands tied and little sway with Tkachuk, he’s gone out and brought in a legitimate MVP contender and top pair defender. . Not that anyone has forgotten, but this offseason, the Flames also lost Johnny Gaudreau, who tied for second in league scoring with… Huberdeau. It’s the Tkachuk trade, but if the Flames were looking for a point-producing winger to fill a hole on the left side, they just got one.

Huberdeau can direct the show in Calgary. His defensive impact isn’t great, but Calgary coach Darryl Sutter has helped in that area before, and he should be able to do it again. On the defensive end, the Flames, under Sutter, pride themselves on limiting chances against and being tough to play against. Adding a solid two-way defender to Weegar should only help with that identity. Not to mention, strengthening the blue line should have been a priority this offseason after the terrible display without Chris Tanev in Round 2 against Edmonton, but that need fell on the to-do list behind Gaudreau and Tkachuk.

This deal should give Calgary at least another year to try and battle a core built around Huberdeau, Weegar, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane and Jacob Markstrom, to name a few. And if contract negotiations, or the season, don’t go well, they might try to flip one (or two) at the deadline for even more assets in the Tkachuk trade tree. A sneaky part to watch is any secondary moves the Flames might make to grab other assets by sending one of the many left-handed defensemen (Noah Hanifin, Oliver Kylington, Nikita Zadorov, Connor Mackey and Juuso Valimaki) into the organization. Contract talks leading to arbitration not going well with Kylington? Maybe they can move it to a high pick. Just a thought.

As for Florida, well, they got the best player for the longest term in this deal. Tkachuk will make the Panthers better, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the team faced a similar issue when it comes to the long-term future of Huberdeau and/or Weegar in Florida.

It’s early, but it looks like a win-win.

Calgary Note: A
Florida ranking: B+

(Photo by Matthew Tkachuk: Sergei Belski/USA Today)

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