In what was perhaps the biggest trade of the salary cap era, the Calgary Flames have officially retooled by adding Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar to their roster. This offseason has seen two 100+ point superstars—Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk—move to other teams in the Eastern Conference, but the Flames are staying competitive and will be competing for the Stanley Cup next season.
Fans are excited to see Huberdeau—a bonafide superstar who finished with the second most points in the NHL last season—don a Flames jersey. Ditto for Weegar, who has cemented himself as a top tier defenceman, and one of the best two-way blueliners in the game.
However, this blockbuster trade also came with a giant elephant in the room, the contract status of the new Flames. Both are pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs) after the 2022–23 season; both are currently set to hit free agency next summer.
Johnny Gaudreau took the Flames all the way to the final minute before deciding to sign elsewhere, leaving the Flames with nothing but tears and frustration as they watched the face of their franchise walk into Nationwide Arena and put on a Columbus Blue Jackets sweater.
Don’t expect Brad Treliving to let that happen again with Huberdeau and Weegar.
The Gaudreau fiasco was a learning moment for the Flames, and Brad Treliving specifically. He trusted the Gaudreau camp last summer and into the season when they said they would sign in Calgary long-term. Treliving chose to enter the season with absolutely no clarity on Gaudreau’s situation. He took the word of Gaudreau and his agent, and ultimately got bitten in the butt at the end of the day.
Treliving is not a perfect general manager. He has done lots of great things for this franchise, but has also made his fair share of mistakes. One thing he is really good at is learning from his mistakes, and with how big his mistake was with Gaudreau, he isn’t going to make it again.
The CBA actually does allow the Flames to sign Huberdeau and Weegar to eight-year extensions. Players can only sign for eight years with the team they were on at the previous trade deadline, or if there is a trade and that player is with their new team past the next trade deadline, they may sign for eight years.
This boosts the Flames’ bargaining power significantly. In the Tkachuk deal, the Flames orchestrated the first sign-and-trade in NHL history to allow for Tkachuk to get that eighth year and up his trade value as a result.
Huberdeau is coming off the best season of his career with a team that had a historic offensive season. It would be smart for him to sign a long-term extension now and cash in on that season. If he waits, he’ll be 30 years old in free agency and likely won’t have any more bargaining power than he does now.
The Flames will offer him the world, and he should take it. All indications point to him being very open to signing in Calgary long-term. Even his agent, Allan Walsh, appears to be on board. He’s already met with Treliving and you can expect talks to continue until a there is a resolution.
Weegar is slightly younger, but has expressed several times already how happy he is to be returning to Canada and playing in a Canadian market. He loves being closer to home and has also expressed a lot of interest in signing long-term.
The roadmap for Calgary involves fewer contract mishaps
With some more good work from Treliving, the door is open for him to sign these two stars long-term and keep the good times going in Calgary.
If he isn’t able to sign them to extensions, Treliving has no choice but to explore other options. Once again, he got burned with Gaudreau, and he has to know that repeating that mistake will cost him his job. Huberdeau and Weegar are both premier players in the NHL and should be able to net the Flames a boatload of assets if they were flipped.
Don’t expect Treliving to enter the season without clarity like he did one year ago. Both stars will either sign an extension, or get flipped before the season starts. Book it.