Free washer | Can the Leafs get their Tkachuk?


We often try to imitate the winning team model.

Days after being eliminated by the Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas was hoping aloud for the possibility of making a spectacular trade like that of his colleague Bill Zito … if Dubas remains in office. obviously.

The GM of the Panthers managed one of the most spectacular transactions of the last decades last summer and his club finds itself in the semis, after having yet come close to exclusion from the playoffs, led by the young star obtained from the Calgary Flames, Matthew Tkachuk, 16 points in 12 games since the start of the playoffs.

« They won the Presidents’ Trophy (the previous season) and lost in the second round, » Dubas said during his press briefing earlier this week in response to a question from colleague Pierre Lebrun. They were disappointed. Summer comes around and they trade two core players for one amazing young player. It was a huge transaction, but it didn’t happen on a whim. The team we have just faced has given us a good example to follow. »

However, Dubas’s statement deserves clarification. We will then see if a trade of this nature is possible for the Maple Leafs.

Like the majority of NHL managers, Zito dreamed of Matthew Tkachuk, 24, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, the dog to spare, 104 points, including 42 goals the previous season in Calgary, but he did not initiate talks with the Flames.

Flames GM Brad Treliving, out of work for a few weeks, surveyed a few teams, including the Panthers, after learning Tkachuk wanted to leave Calgary.

Treliving had not only just lost its best scorer, Johnny Gaudreau, on the free agent market, but it was going to have to mourn this young potential star.

After a season of 111 points, a first-round victory over the Dallas Stars and a seasoned core, we don’t want to weaken in anticipation of the following season.

Jonathan Huberdeau, 29, 115 points the previous season, and MacKenzie Weegar, 28, 44 points in 80 games, the most used defenseman after Aaron Ekblad at more than 23 minutes per game, filled an important void for the Flames. With the arrival of Nazem Kadri on the free agent market, the club would still be competitive the following season, perhaps even better with the arrival of a defender of Weegar’s caliber.

Zito was willing to lose two important coins to get only one in return, but he solved an important long-term problem. Huberdeau and Weegar were a year away from full autonomy and would have had to be overpaid to keep them long term. Zito knew it and so did Treliving. The Panthers agreed to trade a 2025 first-round pick to Calgary to compensate.

To justify this important exchange, Treliving put Huberdeau and Weegar under long-term contract and thus avoided losing them without getting anything in return in July 2023. Huberdeau will receive 10.5 million on average until 2031. He will then be 37 years old , almost 38. Weegar will earn an average of 6.5 million, until 2031 too. He will be a year younger.

The Panthers were supposed to take a step back and the Flames step forward. It suited Treliving well, looking for a new contract at the end of the season. The opposite happened.

How much has taciturn coach Darryl Sutter contributed to the Flames’ difficult season, excluded from the playoffs? He was fired after management consultation with some key players in the team.

Huberdeau saw his production drop to 55 points, including 15 goals. Weegar had 31 points and averaged two fewer minutes per game than the previous season at Florida.

Tkachuk is coming off a career-best 109-point season. He scored 40 goals. He has already completed the first year of his eight-year contract at an annual salary of 9.5 million, one million less than Huberdeau’s salary from next year.

The young Panthers star will be 32 when his eight-year contract ends. Huberdeau will be 30 when his own begins.

How will Kyle Dubas be able to imitate Zito if he gets a contract extension? He will first have to hope for a providential call from a general manager stuck like Treliving was.

Then succeed in exchanging aging players for a rising star. Auston Matthews is 25, Mitch Marner is 26 and William Nylander turned 27 two weeks ago.

John Tavares is the oldest player in his attacking core at 32. He is still under contract for two years at an annual salary of 11 million. Tavares is coming off his best season in four years with 80 points in as many games, but he’s had 14 points in his last 18 playoff games, even though he’s shown a great spirit of sacrifice and discipline in recent weeks. Toronto won’t get a 25-year-old player of Tkachuk’s caliber for him.

Let’s first see who can save his skin in the administrative offices of the Leafs…

What if it was Salt Lake City?


Arizona Coyotes Amphitheater

The future of the Coyotes in Arizona is in jeopardy following a citizen vote on Tuesday night rejecting the proposal for a new amphitheater in Tempe, a suburb of Phoenix.

Houston, Texas, a city of 2.2 million souls, almost double its neighbor Dallas, is often mentioned in a possible transfer from the Coyotes. The Toyota Center already hosts the Rocket, in the NBA. Atlanta is also cited, despite the fiasco of the Thrashers, transferred to Winnipeg after only fourteen years.

The Hockey News would see the Coyotes in Salt Lake City, the scene of the 2002 Olympics. Utah, the state north of Arizona, sits between Nevada’s Vegas Golden Knights and Denver’s Avalanche from Colorado.

The Utah Jazz and their amphitheater, the Vivint Arena, built in 1991, belongs to the same man, billionaire Ryan Smith, obviously not to be confused with the former hockey player. Smith would love to own an NHL team and has already had discussions with commissioner Gary Bettman.

Quebec deserves a team, but the National Hockey League does not seem interested.

Do not miss

1- All the details on the vote rejecting the erection of a new amphitheater in Tempe, with Simon-Olivier Lorange.

2- Reconstruction is necessary to win, believes Geoff Molson. A text by Richard Labbé.

3- Impossible to miss Pier-Olivier Lestage on a football pitch. Despite the bad weather, he smiles. He decided to live his dream like this. Nicholas Richard tells.


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