Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames absolutely lost the Matthew Tkachuk trade… for now

If you are watching the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs then you probably have your eyes glued to your screen with the delicious storylines.

The Seattle Kraken upsetting the defending Stanley Cup Champions Colorado Avalanche, the Toronto Maple Leafs finally getting over their first round demons, and the Boston Bruins getting ousted in seven games after setting an NHL record for wins in the regular season. 

It’s been absolutely bonkers on the ice to start the postseason.

The perspective of Flames fans watching the playoffs

Of course if you are a Calgary Flames fan, then you are probably not enjoying this playoff season as much as other fan bases. First off, the team is in the midst of an organizational overhaul, but more importantly they have a number of former players that are making a massive impact for their respective teams.

None more so than Matthew Tkachuk.

Tkachuk has been an absolute maniacal force so far in the Florida Panthers’ postseason run. Most fans and pundits alike attribute the Panthers’ first round upset over the Bruins to his play. Not only is he now leading the league in playoff points with 14 in eight games, but he’s playing his brand of hockey that is almost too hard to handle.

After last night’s three-point Game 1 performance and team win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s become even more astronomically clear that the Calgary Flames lost the Tkachuk trade by a mile.

At least for now.

Here’s what we mean.

The Trade

We all know the story well, late on a Friday evening in the heat of the summer, the Flames and Panthers pulled off the biggest trade in the salary cap era and the first ever sign and trade in NHL history

To CalgaryTo Florida
Jonathan Huberdeau
MacKenzie Weegar
Cole Schwindt
2025 conditional first-round pick
Matthew Tkachuk (8 x $9.5M) 

At the time, the Flames were named the easy victors. They got a 100-point player in return that just set an NHL record for most assists in a season by a left winger, one of the league’s most underrated defencemen, a near NHL-ready prospect, and a first-round draft pick for a player that was blackmailing his way off of the team—an absolute home run if you are the Calgary Flames. 

The team would then use that 2025 first-rounder to offload Sean Monahan’s contract to the Montreal Canadiens giving them enough room to sign Nazem Kadri to a seven-year contract. It was smooth sailing for the Flames.

The biggest question mark at the time was the contract status of both Huberdeau and Weegar who were pending unrestricted free agents in the 2023 offseason, and that their status whether they’d sign with the Flames would be the eventual determining factor. 

Well, add in two eight-year contract extensions for each of them and everyone in Calgary was practically dancing.

Of course, that was before either team hit the ice.

On-ice performances 

The Flames had a disastrous season on the ice, leading to them missing the postseason. Matthew Tkachuk had the complete opposite type of season where he was the best player on his team.

PlayerGPGAPSeason to Season Point Differential
Matthew Tkachuk794069109+5
Jonathan Huberdeau79154055-60
MacKenzie Weegar8142731-13

After his first 100-point season of his career, Tkachuk would go on to score another 40 goals and improve his point total by five in three fewer games. His 109 points was enough to beat the combined offensive production of Huberdeau and Weegar by 23 points. 

Tkachuk had the same number of goals as Hubereau had assists… this especially stings in a season where Huberdeau set the NHL record for biggest season-to-season point drop

Combine that with the fact that Tkachuk willed his team into the postseason, while the Flames could not get a similar effort out of their team. 

Tkachuk dominated in a landslide. 

Too early to call?

While at this point in time it is extremely easy to call a victory for the Panthers, it would be wise to hold off on such judgment. 

First off, Huberdeau’s season was a massive outlier compared to his historical production which means the chances of him returning to his former pace are greater than not. Secondly, Tkachuk has set the bar astronomically high. If the Panthers go on to win the Stanley Cup it’s a different story, but if he can’t repeat the same lofty heights that he has set for himself then this may look like an outlier season as well.

Plus, there is still the Weegar factor of it all. Despite his numbers being off on the offensive end of the ice, Weegar was one of the Flames’ best defencemen all season long. If he can continue that type of play, and notch a few more points, he could be the x-factor here.

Additionally, both Weegar and Huberdeau suffered under the Darryl Sutter regime. They are both free of that now. Should the team’s structure be built around both players—which it should have been from the start—there is a chance that we could be looking back in a year’s time wondering why we ever thought the Flames lost this deal.

Short-term pain, long-term gain?

Right now it absolutely sucks to see Tkachuk completely dominate the playoffs for the Panthers. It is borderline disgusting. Some fans may be cheering him on, but they are in the minority.

The Flames absolutely missed his play this season and would have been much better with him than without him; however, they were still able to recover a significant amount of assets that could still pan out over the duration of these contracts. 

Let’s hope that the Flames can in fact reclaim the trade victory title before it’s all said and done.


Photo from Sportsnet on Twitter.com.

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