At 11:05 PM on July 22nd, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman dropped a nuclear bomb on the hockey world when he tweeted out that Matthew Tkachuk had been traded to the Florida Panthers in the first ever sign-and-trade in NHL history.
The developments of the trade came as a huge shock as Tkachuk was widely anticipated to be traded to his “hometown” team the St. Louis Blues.
Minutes later it was also announced that Tkachuk had signed an eight-year extension with the Panthers worth $76 million ($9.5M AAV), a pre-requisite of any trade involving Tkachuk who was an RFA and was one year away from walking to unrestricted free agency.
This trade was a win for the Panthers, acquiring one of the best under 25 talents in the whole sport, but at what cost.
Friedman revealed what the package going back to the Flames was and it sent hockey Twitter into a frenzy. The main pieces going to Calgary were Johnathan Huberdeau & MacKenzie Weegar. NOBODY saw this type of trade coming!
Here’s the trade in full:
- Florida Panthers receives: Matthew Tkachuk
- Calgary Flames receives: Johnathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt & a 25’ 1st
With Jonathan Huberdeau and Matthew Tkachuk swapping teams, it was only the second time in NHL history that two 100-point scorers from the prior season have been traded for each other. The other was when Wayne Gretzky went to the Kings and Jimmy Carson went to the Oilers in 1988 according to ESPN.
This summer has been a mess for the Calgary Flames, but you can’t really blame the organization for what has happened.
On the eve of Free Agency, Johnny Gaudreau, who was drafted by Calgary in the 4th round of the 2011 draft, announced he was going to test the market and closed the door on a return to Calgary.
Gaudreau rejected a reported eight-year, $84 million contract with the Flames to be “closer” to home. The next day, Gaudreau signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets for seven years, $68.25 million ($9.75M).
Johnny’s decision to leave Calgary would be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” when it came to Matthew Tkachuk’s decision on whether to stay in Calgary.
A year after the Flames finished the regular season with 111 points, were Pacific Division champions and made it to the second round of the playoffs, they had their biggest nightmares came to reality in a matter of weeks.
On July 20th, a week after Free Agency opened, Tkachuk and his agents notified the Flames that he would not be re-signing long-term according to Athletic, essentially ending his tenure with the organization.
Tkachuk was now available for trade as Flames GM Brad Treliving would be forced to trade his young superstar before he walked away for free in a year’s time just like Johnny did this summer.
According to a source close to the situation, Tkachuk gave the Flames a list of teams he’d sign a long-term extension with.
That list included his hometown St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars while the New Jersey Devils & New York Rangers were interested in the past.
Nobody knew what the Flames could want back in return for a player that scored 42 goals and had 104 points.
But a report from Eric Francis of Sportsnet in Calgary said the Flames expected a return of “3 to 4 players for Tkachuk, including top 6 forward, solid prospect and 1st rounder in the deal”.
A huge asking price for a player who the public knows does not want to be on your team.
Fans and media alike laughed off any expectations the Flames had based off the returns that Chicago got for Alex Debrincat and what Minnesota got for Kevin Fiala.
But Treliving worked his magic in negotiations with Panthers GM Bill Zito and boy did Twitter blow up when they saw the return going back to Calgary.
To turn Matthew Tkachuk into Johnathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar a prospect and a first-round pick was a MAJOR coup for the Flames.
Looking at this trade from Zito’s point of view, both Huberdeau & Weegar are on expiring contracts after this upcoming season. The though behind the move is that you turned two assets you were going to probably not extend and turned them into a unicorn player like Matthew Tkachuk, a player that does everything on the ice.
Huberdeau being the biggest piece in the deal made this trade a NO BRAINER for Treliving and the Flames.
Huberdeau is coming off a career year in which he posted 30 goals and 85 assists and tied with Johnny Gaudreau, yes that same Johnny Gaudreau, for second in the league with 115 points.
Huberdeau alone would have been a fair deal but add MacKenzie Weegar to the same deal and this is already looking like a great deal from a Flames perspective.
When Panthers captain Aaron Ekblad missed the final 21 games of the regular season, Weegar stepped up in his place as the #1 defenseman on the team and the Panthers never skipped a beat.
Weegar in 2021-2022 was an “elite two-way defenseman who drives play at both ends of the ice at a level that very few can equal. One of the best transition D, offensively and defensively, in the NHL” according to JFreshHockey on twitter.
Treliving does have a tough task on his hands, having to either resign Huberdeau and Weegar to long-term extensions or move one or both off the players to gain more controllable assets. In the end, Treliving got market value and then some with the return he was able to get.
On a potential future trade for the Flames, David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period, has already reported the morning after the trade that the Flames are taking calls from around the league on Huberdeau and are actively listening. Will Huberdeau play a single game for the Flames?
All in all, Treliving and the Flames got exactly what they were looking in a trade involving Matthew Tkachuk. The organization believes whole heartedly that they are able to compete for a Stanley Cup in the coming years and did not want to start a rebuild after these two major departures.
For the Panthers, they get one of the best power forwards in hockey, helping them to become one of the favorites once again in the Atlantic Division this upcoming season with a look towards better success in the playoffs after being swept by their rivals in the second round.
Matthew Tkachuk got his wish. He is now in a situation down in Florida where he believes he can win a Cup. He also gets his first mega eight-year extension, worth $76 million dollars with NO income tax down in Florida. Last but not least, he gets to play hockey 30 minutes away from Miami, enough said.
When you look at this trade, all three parties come away thinking they won the deal. For the first time in NHL history, we saw a BLOCKBUSTER type deal you would normally see in the NBA. Expect to see more “sign and trade” type deals in the future.
- Florida: B
- Calgary A+ (but if they lose even one player to free agency next season, C+)
- Matthew Tkachuk A+++ (The location & the contract)