NHL Trade Grades: Panthers get Matthew Tkachuk from Flames for Huberdeau, Weegar and more


NHL Trade Grades: Panthers get Matthew Tkachuk from Flames for Huberdeau, Weegar and more

The trade

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

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

Dom Luszczyszyn: Wow.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

This is a blockbuster in every sense of the word with two absolute superstars going in every direction.

All year we were told that Jonathan Huberdeau was an MVP candidate, but it took several additions before he was a true MVP candidate: Matthew Tkachuk.

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

At the same time Huberdeau PLUS Mackenzie Weegar is a bridge too far. I don’t think it’s controversial to say that Tkachuk is the more valuable asset (especially when it comes to contract considerations), but adding a legitimate top pair defender as well is absolutely wild. Calgary, with no leverage, did incredibly well here given the circumstances. Yes, both Huberdeau and Weegar have a year left on unrestricted free agency (UFA) — but together they have more value than Tkachuk alone. Tkachuk’s extension sure helps, but wow. That is much.

It speaks to the value of the league stakes for all three of Tkachuk, Huberdeau and Weegar. But at the end of the day, Florida got a superstar as a power forward for eight years, and Calgary also has two exceptional players. Both have done well, depending on how you look at it.

Calgary class: A+
Florida class: B

Corey Proman: Huberdeau was one of the best forwards in the NHL last season. He’s a player of elite skill, creativity and vision who can play a power game with the best of them. He’s a competitive forward whose only real downsides are that he doesn’t have a dangerous top gear and isn’t overly physical. I don’t think Florida was 100 percent convinced Huberdeau could be re-signed, even though it was a likely possibility. He was also quite disappointing in last season’s playoffs.

Weegar did very well with Florida after being picked mid-round. He is a highly intelligent puck mover with great agility and a powerful motor. He is a legitimate top defender who, like Huberdeau 2023, is an upcoming UFA.

Cole Schwindt is a good-sized forward with some skills and scoring opportunities, and a solid off-the-puck workload. His skating is the big limitation for him. He’s been producing a lot of offense this season in the AHL considering he didn’t have any power play time. He has a good chance of being a bottom six forward.

Tkachuk is one of the best youngsters in the league. He is an extremely skilled and creative winger who also has an elite work rate. He’s great on the net front, winning a lot of fights and has an advantage in his game. His only downside is a lack of truly dangerous NHL speed, but everything else about his game is top-notch. He has a game that works very well in the playoffs as well.

Such a big part of evaluating this deal will be Calgary’s ability to renew either Hubderdeau or Weegar or both. When they can, they’ve been back in business as a top NHL team for several years, adding two high-end NHL players after losing two in Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. If they don’t, they’re right back where they started. For the purposes of this article, I’m assuming they’re able to work out renewals for at least one of their two new Canadian stars.

Florida handles pending UFA situations for Huberdeau and Weegar, where they are both unlikely to sign, and is able to turn that into a locked-down young elite power forward. That moves them down another first-round pick (you’ll next see the Panthers on the podium in first-round in 2025 or 2026), but they’re clearly all-in with that core of players and they’re still looking as a Stanley Cup contender going into next season.

Today Calgary improved their team more than Florida. Longer term, Florida has likely continued to improve their club while remaining relevant as a contender.

This is one of the most intriguing trades of the salary cap era and will be analyzed for years to come. Points for both clubs for creativity and courage.

Calgary Flames: A-
Florida Panther: B+

Shayna Goldman: I’m really trying to wrap my brain around it. I was expecting Tkachuk to be traded but to St Louis or Dallas. Even Vegas seemed possible because the Golden Knights always buy and dump players later to clear the cap. But Florida! Hi!

The Panthers saw their all-in moves by deadline and somehow increased them. They bring in an elite winger – rightfully one of the best in the league – and extend it by eight years. The Panthers keep their forward group stacked with one player who will give them more value in Tkachuk in the short and long term. So obviously they walk away with this win. Still, Panthers management has given up a ton here and is running out of assets to address the rest of Florida’s roster.

The first question I had was where Huberdeau and his next deal are a year from now. Well it leaves him in Calgary!

The Flames appear desperate 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 fighter should be fine with the Flames’ system. If they can’t extend Huberdeau it would be quite a gamble when they probably could have added players with greater certainty elsewhere. But since he’s not the only benefit here, it makes it a lot tastier. Instead it’s Weegar, a first-round pick and a prospect – that’s absolutely a win for the Flames if they haven’t had as much impact after realizing Tkachuk’s time with the team would be limited.

Calgary Class: A
Florida class: B+

Sean Gentille: We’ve written thousands of words about Tkachuk’s future here over the past few days. Thousands more scheduled to run Saturday morning had to be scrapped. At no point — not me, Dom, Hailey Salvian, Jeremy Rutherford, pick a name out of a hat — has anyone lined up, “Maybe Brad Treliving can win this trade.”

And yet here we are in the middle of the night. Turns out Treliving could 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 were made to be broken. Tkachuk is better than Huberdeau. Tkachuk is better than Weegar. Tkachuk is better than Schwindt. Tkachuk is certainly better than a conditional first-round pick.

But Tkachuk is no better than the Flames’ full return. And honestly, it couldn’t be that tight. That doesn’t mean Florida is lost here; Tkachuk immediately signed for less than he could have gotten on the open market for the rest of his prime. It certainly doesn’t mean Tkachuk lost; He’s on a better team in a state with no income taxes. Huberdeau and Weegar’s signing was not a ban, especially given the (earlier) cap situation in Florida. Tkachuk will be signed, sealed and shipped until well into his 30’s.

And Calgary’s dub doesn’t come without problems; Huberdeau, prolific as he is, is not a complete player on par with Tkachuk. He’s UFA after next season and whether he stays is an open, very compelling question. Same goes for Weegar — but facts are facts. Huberdeau is an elite first-liner. Weegar is a first pair guy. The risk of losing her is worth the possibility of you both signing, especially for Treliving, who seemed, shall we say, on the verge of the hot seat. unreal work. A risk worth taking. Calgary should still be a playoff team somehow.

Calgary Class: A+
Florida class: B+

Hailey Salvian: Brad Treliving was put in an unenviable position this week – trying to win a trade with a player like Tkachuk walking out the door. But he might just have done it, at least in the short term. Yes, he’ll have to try to hold on to Huberdeau and Weegar (two UFAs next summer), but with his hands tied and little impact on Tkachuk, he went out and picked a legitimate MVP candidate and a top pair defender. Not that anyone forgot, but that offseason the Flames also lost league second-placed Johnny Gaudreau, tied on points with…Huberdeau. That’s the Tkachuk trade, but if the Flames were looking for a playful, point-producing winger to fill a hole on the left, they just got one.

Huberdeau may 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 so again. On defense, the Flames under Sutter pride themselves on limiting chances and being difficult to play. Adding a solid two-way defender in Weegar should only help with that identity. Not to mention that strengthening the blue line should have been a priority this offseason after the terrible performance without Chris Tanev in Round 2 against Edmonton, but that necessity fell on the to-do list behind Gaudreau and Tkachuk.

That deal should give Calgary at least another year to try and compete with a core built around Huberdeau, Weegar, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, and Jacob Markstrom, to name a few. And if the contract talks or the season aren’t going well, they might try to flip one (or two) of them by deadline to get even more assets in the Tkachuk trade tree. One insidious part of this to watch out for is any secondary moves the Flames might take to snag more assets by targeting one of the many left-firing defenders (Noah Hanifin, Oliver Kylington, Nikita Zadorov, Connor Mackey and Juuso Valimaki) extradite the organization. Contract talks leading up to arbitration not going well at Kylington? Maybe they can move him for a high pick. Just a thought.

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

It’s early days, but this looks like a win-win situation.

Calgary Class: A
Florida Class: B+

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

You May Also Like