Calgary traded Tkachuk to Florida for Huberdo, reasons, analysis of the deal, who benefited from the exchange

After it became known about the desire of Matthew Tkachuk to change the team, Sportsnet recalled that the last time a player who scored 100 points was changed in the offseason in 2001. His name was Jaromir Jagr, and he changed Pittsburgh to Washington.

The NHL is sometimes reprimanded for not having the transfer tension that the NBA has. There, superstar relationships with each other and with teams are more like a soap opera, there is always a rumor about the exchange of someone famous and the expectation of the birth of a superteam. Well, now we have seen a blockbuster in the NHL: the eighth scorer of the season was changed to the second scorer, and even with a solid weight. This is not just the main trade of the off-season, but also the main exchange of the year.

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So, Florida got Matthew Tkachuk and immediately extended his contract ($ 9.5 million for eight years). Calgary moved forward Jonathan Huberdeau, guard Mackenzie Wigar, 21-year-old power forward Cole Schwindt and a first-round pick in the 2025 draft (the 2023 and 2024 picks of the Panthers have already been traded for Ben Schiaro and Claude Giroud).

What is special about this deal? Rarely when the stars are changed to equivalent stars. Looking back at the last big trades (say, Karlsson or Eichel), the best part of the packages received for the stars should have been young players whose prospects at the time of the trade were not entirely clear. In Karlsson’s trade, it was Norris; in Eichel’s trade, it should be Krebs.

Matthew Tkachuk


But now it’s even impossible to say unequivocally that Florida got the best player in the deal. Judging purely by scoring, Huberdeau is a much more consistent player than the American enforcer or even Gaudreau. In each of the last seasons, Jonathan scored much more points per match, and did this with different partners in the links.

After the composition of the “Florida” became much stronger, the Huberdo-Barkov connection, familiar to many, broke up. The center with Russian roots began to pump young wingers, and Huberdeau, as it turned out, could play with any centers. In the shortened covid season, his main partner was Alexander Wennberg, who had previously been bought out by Columbus, and last year Sam Bennett, who suffered in the same Calgary. This did not stop Jonathan from knocking out 115 points.

Tkachuk has a different story: he gave his best season after being transferred to the top three with Godro and Lindholm. Until this season, he played on the second line and scored just under a point per game – an excellent result, but still not a superstar. However, apparently, in Florida, Matthew is expected not so much points as his abilities as an elite power forward, for a long time the Panthers were considered too soft for an opponent. 0-4 from “Tampa” showed that something needs to be changed.

In principle, the exchange of Huberdo for Tkachuk would already be equal – well, given that Jonathan is older, one could also send a draft pick towards Alberta. And here is the defender, and another young player! “Calgary”, which two days ago looked like it would now begin another restructuring, worked for 5+.

However, it must be borne in mind that both Huberdeau and Wigar became unrestricted free agents after a season. Florida has stocked up with a bunch of players lately, scored a paycheck and inevitably lost one of them in the 2023 market, and now both players have gone into business.

Mackenzie Wigar


What does Florida get in the end? A young enforcer with potential who has already signed a long-term contract, the absence of difficult negotiations with his stars in a year. But trading Wigar as part of the deal instantly robs the Panthers of any defensive depth. Behind Aaron Ekblad, the protective body looks flimsy: a good pack-mover Montur, pumped through partners Forsling and homebodies for the third pair of Staal and Gudas, is protection for the middle peasant, and not for a team that expects to win now. The fact that Florida expects to do this is clear from the generous distribution of draft picks.

Also, with Tkachuk signed, the Panthers are $3.5 million over the ceiling. Most likely, this will be solved by exchanging Patrick Hernquist ($5.3 million per year) with some kind of “sweetener” to boot. Perhaps, in addition to this, an exchange of one of the many forwards in favor of a defender will follow – guys like Damon Siverson and Samuel Girard are available on the market.

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And what about Calgary? Huberdo will be a replacement for Gaudreau rather than Tkachuk, they are similar in terms of playing qualities. Wigar is a homebody defender who has partnered with Aaron Ekblad for most of his career, but has done a good job of helping other defensive players roll forward. After his trade, the Lights will probably have the most even defense in the NHL – no obvious superstars, but with wonderful depth. This depth in the playoffs after the injury of Chris Tanev was just not enough.

This trade allows Calgary to remain in contender status. Questions only with the depth of attack – right now there are only nine forwards on unilateral contracts. We need to extend the deal with Manjapane and look for reinforcements for the third or fourth link – however, there are still numerous options on the free agent market.

Jonathan Huberdeau


Of course, the problem is that both received players are running out of contracts. But Huberdeau and Wigar are Canadians, and it will be a little easier for Americans to keep them at home, Jonathan supposedly often spends his summers in Alberta. In addition, this year, contract negotiations were hampered by the bad contracts of Lucic and Monahan – they expire in a year.

Even if both players do not want to renew their contracts, the club can profitably trade them at the deadline: an elite winger and defender usually stand on him for a first-round pick and a young player. For the “lights” the situation is almost a win-win situation – if only injuries do not interfere.

Calgary unequivocally worked out this exchange perfectly because they got an objective maximum that could be squeezed out. “Florida” in the moment also took the one they wanted, winning the fight against other contenders, but will this exchange break the balance of attack and defense? We’ll see after other signings – they will be inevitable for the Panthers.

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