The Calgary Flames made franchise history on August 4, 2022, signing Jonathan Huberdeau to an eight-year extension worth $10.5M a season, retaining his services until 2031.
There were a lot of historic marks made by this deal, whether it be the fact that Huberdeau is the first player to have a contract for the 2030-31 season, or that it was the largest financial commitment made by the Flames organization in terms of total money, signing bonus, and money per season.
Let’s take some time to look at Huberdeau the player:
Huberdeau’s on-ice performance
Huberdeau has been an elite point producer and playmaker for the last few seasons, culminating last year in his career-best 115 point season during which he set an NHL record for the most assists by a left winger during a single season with 85.
Since being drafted third overall in 2011, Huberdeau has put up consistent numbers on the offensive end:
In terms of his style of play, he’s a facilitator first and foremost but also has a strong scoring touch that isn’t always talked about first. Looking at the WAR percentile player card from JFreshHockey, it’s clear his offensive game is in the top percentiles of the league, but his defensive game needs work.
Of course, many were critical of Johnny Gaudreau’s defensive game prior to playing with Darryl Sutter. Last season was his best defensively, so why can’t we expect the same of Huberdeau?
The other strength of Huberdeau’s game is zone entries and his rush offence. He’s the type of player that is going to carry the puck into the zone and do it far more effectively than others on the ice. Even better is that most of those entries lead to chances, as we saw a number of times in Florida last season.
His forechecking isn’t strong, but that is surely one area that Sutter and the Flames are going to have him focus on this season.
Long-term projections and salary cap implications
After inking this deal, the Flames top six for this upcoming season and next is as follows:
Huberdeau ($5.9M in 2022–23, then $10.5M onwards) – Lindholm ($4.85M) – Toffoli ($4.25M)
Mangiapane ($5.8M) – Backlund ($5.35M) – Coleman ($4.9M)
Not too shabby after the start of the offseason that was had by the Flames, but potentially room for improvement. What is key to note is that after this upcoming season, Milan Lucic and Sean Monahan’s contracts are no longer on the books. It’s possible that they are gone before then, but both players would open up $11.625M in cap space for the team to work with.
They would need a new backup goaltender, and potentially a new deal for MacKenzie Weegar as well, but that gives them an immense amount of flexibility even with Huberdeau’s massive deal.
The real question becomes the 2024-25 season where the team will have Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Dillon Dube, Jakob Pelletier, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, and Oliver Kylington all in need of new deals. That is for another day though.
Sure the deal is massive, and may not look great in 2030–31, but the salary cap is bound to increase over that time period. Additionally, the Flames just had to deal with two superstars that didn’t want to sign long-term in Calgary, and instantly got another to do so. At this point in time, this is a massive win for the Flames and Huberdeau.