Newly acquired Calgary Flames players Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar met with the media Monday morning to discuss the trade that ended their respective terms with the Florida Panthers.
The Panthers traded Huberdeau, Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and a conditional 2025 first-round pick to the Flames last Friday in exchange for forward Matthew Tkachuk.
Tkachuk, 24, had elected to leave Calgary as a restricted free agent. He and his agent, Craig Oster, worked closely with Flames general manager Brad Treliving to determine the best possible trade destination where he could sign a long-term deal.
In exchange, the Flames received two star players – Huberdeau finished second in the 2022 Art Ross Trophy race, Weegar has been part of the Norris Trophy conversation for the past two seasons – who are only a year away. on their respective contracts.
For a Flames team and fans who already lost Johnny Gaudreau for nothing earlier this summer and have been grappling with the impending departure of Tkachuk for two weeks, the uncertainty surrounding the contract situations of Huberdeau and Weegar already seems , on the surface, very familiar .
Naturally, many of the questions directed at both players on Monday were about their long-term future.
« Yeah, I’m ready to sign with the Flames long term, » Huberdeau told Flames TV’s Brendan Parker. “My job is to play hockey, come in, get ready for training camp and be the best player I can be. And after that, I leave that to Allan [Walsh]my agent and the general manager.
« Yeah, same here, open to signing a long-term deal, » Weegar added. « The city and the team, there’s no reason not to be open about it. So I’m looking forward to my agent talking to Brad and seeing what’s going on.
A common refrain heard during the Gaudreau and Tkachuk sagas was the deceased players’ desire for change and, particularly in Gaudreau’s case, to be closer to home.
Both Weegar and Huberdeau are Canadian – Huberdeau was born near Montreal, while Weegar hails from Ottawa – and were quick to express their excitement about playing in their home country.
« It means the world to me, » Weegar said. “A Canadian kid coming back to a Canadian market…that’s super cool. I really can’t explain it to you guys. Clearly, in Florida, gambling is on an upward trend, but here’s [there’s] lots of history with the Calgary Flames, I grew up watching them, obviously not bad.
“The fans are going to be crazy. It will be a very different experience for me, so I’m looking forward to it, and joining the C of Red will be a great time.
« Who doesn’t have a good time at Débandade? » Huberdeau added. « You can see the vibe in the city. It’s really cool. When I went there, I dressed as a cowboy. It was a cool experience.
The Panthers originally selected Huberdeau with the third pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. Huberdeau wore number 11 throughout his QMJHL career with the Saint John Sea Dogs and later when he became the Panthers’ all-time leading scorer.
In Calgary, those numbers are taken by the Flames’ oldest player, Mikael Backlund, who is a strong candidate to replace Mark Giordano as team captain in the future. (Expect Weegar to keep his joint number 52, which he wears as a nod to his cousin, longtime NHL defenseman Craig Rivet).
“Backlund is a veteran. He deserves to keep his number,” Huberdeau said. « I’m going to change the number. I thought about it a bit. I haven’t made a decision yet. The team kind of asked me what I was going to wear, but we’ll see in the next few days. I need to talk to my family, I want to get a good number. I’ve always worn 11, so it’s going to be difficult to change.
Huberdeau also took the time to talk about Elias Lindholm, a 2022 Frank J. Selke Trophy finalist and one of his potential new linemates with the Flames.
« Hopefully he can score 50 with me, » Huberdeau said, as Weegar laughed. “I’m a playmaker and I try to prepare guys, try to make people better around me. Obviously, with him, he’s a guy who goes to the right places and who can get the puck and put it in. »
Weegar expressed excitement about joining a team that won a playoff round in 2022 and is aiming for more with reigning Jack Adams Award winner Darryl Sutter behind the bench.
« I’m thrilled to join this Calgary Flames team, » Weegar said. “They want to win now, and that’s very important to me. So I’m happy to join a team that’s in the game to win the Stanley Cup, and that’s what excites me the most.
« It’s been an extremely warm welcome from the team and staff, so I feel comfortable and confident to join this really strong group. »