Calgary Flames

Calgary’s cases for and against trading Jonathan Huberdeau

Jonathan Huberdeau is the talk of the town the last 48 hours in the NHL, for all of the wrong reasons. 

After the Calgary Flames suffered yet another lopsided loss, Huberdeau’s agent Allan Walsh took to twitter to share a pretty scathing tweet about the team and the current playing environment. Of course, as we have seen with his past Twitter engagements, Walsh wouldn’t have done something without the prior approval of his player—that’s sarcasm a la Marc-Andre Fleury, by the way.

Long story short, Jonathan Huberdeau is not a happy player right now. 

The main issue here is that it’s clear this is a difference in how the coach wants to play Huberdeau, versus how Huberdeau knows he can play more effectively. Neither are going to work as it is right now in Calgary. Sutter’s system doesn’t work for Huberdeau, and if he plays out of that—he’s just not going to play.

While a change in coach would be the obvious decision, Sutter just recently signed a two-year extension with the team. With the way the coaching carousel has been in Calgary the last decade plus, you’d think the team wouldn’t want to do this again. 

So what about Huberdeau? Could he already want out of Calgary not even in year one of his extension signed last summer? Let’s look at why Huberdeau shouldn’t be traded, but also why if he were to be… now would be the time.

Huberdeau stays

There is one extremely clear thing to point out with Huberdeau’s performance this season, and that is that this season is clearly the outlier. Combining all of the factors at play here, including new team, new coach, new system, new linemates, it just simply hasn’t worked for him.

That doesn’t mean it is never going to work. 

Taking a look at his historical numbers, there is too much evidence to support this: 

CategoryCareer2022–23 Season
Time on ice per game18:2316:92
Points per game (PPG)0.900.69
Shots per game (SPG)2.361.62
Shooting percentage12.43%11.90% 

Huberdeau is playing fewer minutes, and as a result is scoring less due to less shot generation as well as a lower shooting percentage.

Essentially, nothing is going right for him this year. Sure his defensive game has improved, but that is lower down the list for how they are paying him. 

Trading him now is essentially giving up on the player he has shown to be his whole career after less than a full season. 

That being said, trading him now would be at his lowest possible value point. Teams see this year and could try to buy low, leading to just an even worse possible asset management situation for the Flames. Additionally, if the team were to trade him they would have to take back as much money as they are paying him over the next eight seasons and there is a guaranteed chance that the sum of those parts wouldn’t equal a Jonathan Huberdeau-like player. If the team were to retain salary on a transaction, this would make it an even more asinine decision. Why pay a guy for eight seasons not to play on your team?

The short of it is, the team isn’t going to trade Jonathan Huberdeau just a few months after signing him to the biggest Flames contract in team history. 


Huberdeau goes 

If the Flames were to want to trade Huberdeau, the time is now.

Taking a look at Huberdeau’s contract from CapFriendly, his contract terms are what people should focus on.

Currently in the final year of a six-year, $35.4M contract, this brings in an interesting wrinkle. He had a no-move clause (NMC) the last three seasons, but that switched to a modified no-trade clause (M-NTC) on the start of free agency last summer. This allows him to submit eight teams he cannot be traded to. This is an annual process where he submits this list, and the team does what they want. This allowed him to be traded to Calgary, since they were not on his M-NTC. 

This unique clause only exists until July 1 of this season, then he has a full NMC until 2029. If things continue to get worse, then the team could face a situation where Huberdeau only picks where he wants to go and his trade value worsens. 

Not ideal.

If the Flames were to get a serious offer leading up to free-agency, and this season continues down it’s spiral trend, then this could be the situation where the Flames can trade Huberdeau. 

Slim, but possible chance. 

What happens with Huberdeau?

The most likely situation is the team just decides to reset and build around Huberdeau in the offseason, with management and coaching most likely being overhauled.

Should the Flames somehow find a way to make a run for it this season, which is slim, then this is all just conjecture. But just how MacKenzie Weegar’s name came up in trade rumours, I wonder if Huberdeau does as well.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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