Calgary Flames

MacKenzie Weegar can be the next great Calgary Flames defenceman

The Calgary Flames and MacKenzie Weegar agreed to an eight-year contract extension prior to the start of the 2022–23 regular season. Given that Weegar was set to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2023, the extension was welcomed news for everybody.

Weegar was acquired with one year remaining in his three-year, $3.25M average annual value (AAV) contract, which he signed as a budding defenceman on the Florida Panthers. Over the first two years of the contract, Weegar elevated his play to new heights and comes to the Flames as a potential number one defenceman.

Let’s dive into some deeper details on Weegar’s contract. All numbers are from

Weegar’s contract compared to other Flames

The Flames prioritised acquiring both Weegar and Jonathan Huberdeau when trading Matthew Tkachuk, and now both players are the first Flames to be signed through to 2030–31. Coincidentally, the next longest Flames contract belongs to the other new Flame, Nazem Kadri, who’s signed through 2028–29. Clearly, the Flames are committing to their new era.

With the NHL salary cap expected set to increase to $83.5M for 2023–24, Weegar’s contract will start out at taking up 7.5% of the Flames’ cap space. By 2025–26, if all goes according plan, this percentage could drop down to as low as 6.8%, assuming the cap is $92M as reported.

Flames defencemen contracts

Looking at Weegar’s new contract, he becomes only the second defenceman in the history of the Flames to sign a contract with at least $6M per season. The only other defender above this threshold was of course former captain Mark Giordano, who signed his six-year, $6.75M AAV contract back in 2015–16.

Even reducing the threshold of defencemen contracts above $5M AAV, it only adds on Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Wideman. Below is more information on each contract, three of which were signed with Brad Treliving as the Flames general manager, while Wideman’s was during Jay Feaster’s tenure.

PlayerSigning DateTermAAVTotal
MacKenzie WeegarOctober 7, 20228$6.25M$50.0M
Mark GiordanoAugust 25, 20156$6.75M$40.5M
Dougie HamiltonJune 30, 20156$5.75M$34.5M
Dennis WidemanJune 7, 20125$5.25M$26.25M

Where Weegar’s contract ranks across the NHL

As of October 10, 2022, there are a total of 285 defencemen signed through at least the 2023–24 season (when Weegar’s new contract kicks in). His AAV of $6.25M places him in a five-way tie for 34th highest paid defencemen that year. Also making $6.25M in 2023–24 will be Jeff Petry (PIT), Ryan Ellis (PHI), Mattias Ekholm (NSH), and Josh Morrissey (WPG).

Weegar’s contract not only clocks in as extremely reasonable in AAV—even coming in under our contract predictions—but will also have great odds of turning into a long-term, high-value return.

Currently, he’s one of the best even strength defencemen in the league. Looking at’s player cards that compares goals above replacement, his past three seasons have been nothing short of phenomenal.

As seen in the top right numbers, he’s a top overall defenceman, and excels at the defensive side of the game. Despite his offence being relatively lower, he’s still a top defenceman in that regard too. Being in the 88th and 95th percentiles for offence and defence, respectively, over the past three seasons is a big achievement—simply, his contract is well-earned.

Weegar’s longevity in the NHL

Weegar becomes the third defenceman in the league to be signed through 2030–31, behind the duo of Tampa Bay Lightning Mikhail Sergachev (8 x $8.5M) and Erik Cernak (8 x 5.2M). While there are concerns about Weegar’s age throughout the contract, it must be noted that he is a late bloomer defenceman.

Sergachev and Cernak are both several years younger than Weegar, but Sergachev has already logged 362 games played and Cernak’s at 226. Weegar—well, he’s only at 306. Of course, regular season games played can only serve as a proxy for a player’s longevity, but Weegar’s still really quite fresh all things considered. Weegar’s teammate, 25-year-old Noah Hanifin, has already played 517 regular season games.

Parallels between Weegar and Giordano

Comparing Weegar to former captain Giordano might coincidentally turn out to one of the more relatable comparisons in all honesty. Given the Flames saw Giordano turn into a 35-year-old Norris Trophy winner, who’s to say Weegar can’t do the same? Right now, Weegar is 28 years old and will turn 29 on January 7, 2023.

When Giordano started his age-29 season, he had six NHL seasons under his belt, varying from a small trial of seven games played through the full 82. He totalled 338 regular season games and just four playoff games (played back in 2007–08). As mentioned above, Weegar currently sits at 306 regular season games in addition to 20 playoff games (split over the past three seasons).

So it’s not unreasonable to pick Giordano as a player to compare Weegar’s progression to at all. Could Weegar follow suit as another late blooming defensive stalwart for the Flames?

Referring to Evolving-Hockey’s player cards again, this is how Giordano’s 2010–11 through 2012–13 seasons looked, which parallels the same player ages as Weegar’s chart shown above.

Giordano was also showing that he was a top defender in the league, seeing more success on offence compared to Weegar (93rd percentile to Weegar’s 88th), but Weegar’s defence has been better (95th percentile to Giordano’s 90th).

Further, up to that point Giordano had been used heavily as a top defender on the power play while Weegar has yet to see prolonged usage on the man-advantage. However, both were relied upon on the penalty kill and there’s no reason to expect that to change for Weegar coming into Calgary.

Weegar is a key player in the Flames’ greater plan

In summary, getting Weegar signed to a long-term extension at his AAV might become one of the league’s best defencemen contracts over the coming years. Recall that Giordano actually signed his 6 x $6.75M contract at 33 years old, an age that will take Weegar four more seasons to reach.

This isn’t to say that Weegar will turn into Calgary’s “Giordano 2.0”, and quite frankly putting those expectations onto him turns a fair comparison into a near unfair expectation. That said, Weegar has shown signs that he can take the reins as a number one defender, and the parallels between the two players are too strong to ignore.

Right now, Rasmus Andersson is the next Flames defender to have the most years remaining on his contract. While Weegar’s signed through 2030–31, Andersson’s current contract expires after 2025–26. The Flames making a commitment of this calibre to Weegar is nothing short of a statement and makes Weegar a key player for nearly the next decade.

Weegar will play alongside Chris Tanev to start in Calgary, which also sets him on a path to succeed. If Weegar can figure out his role on the Flames in Darryl Sutter‘s defence-first checking system, he can see much more success with the Flames than he ever did as a Panther. Book it.

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