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MacKenzie Weegar broke records and emerged as a leader in his second season in Calgary

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Wilson
1 month ago
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In a tough season filled with ups and downs, rumours and trades, and a lot of uncertainty and change, MacKenzie Weegar became a rock on and off the ice for the Calgary Flames.
As we continue player report cards for the 2023-24 season here at FlamesNation, let’s take a look at the bright spot on the blue line.

The past

Weegar arrived in Calgary hailed as an underrated hero of the analytics crowd ready to help bolster an already solid Flames blue line that included Chris Tanev, Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin, Nikita Zadorov, and Oliver Kylington. The Flames quickly locked him up to an eight-year extension and it seemed everything was coming up Weegar!
The transition from the beach to the prairies took some time but Weegar’s inaugural campaign with Calgary proved his ability as an elite defensive force on the blue line. Despite the frustrating nature of the 2022-23 season, Weegar cemented himself as the most valuable addition in the Matthew Tkachuk trade and as a top-tier player in all three zones.
Despite this, many were left wanting more of the dynamic transition play and offensive flair that saw the Ottawa native put up 30-plus assists in back-to-back campaigns and drive a lethal rush offence the two years prior in Florida.
What would year two hold for the man of immaculate vibes?

The present (Return of the Mack/don’t call it a comeback)

The club fumbled out of the gate, Weegar included, but following a tough opening month, the Ottawa native became a bright spot and a strong performer on the back-end.
He started to find the twine at rates we haven’t seen from a Flames defenceman in years.
Weegar finished fourth amongst NHL defencemen in goals with 20 and led all blueliners with 17 even-strength markers (surpassing Al MacInnis’ franchise record). Generally speaking, anytime you are even in the vicinity of breaking records set by the legendary MacInnis, you’re on the right track. Oh yeah, and he became the first defenceman to record 20 goals and 200 blocked shots in a single campaign. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Maybe it was the system shift to generating more offence off the rush, maybe it was a shooting percentage heater, or maybe it was the magic suggestion from Chris Sutter back in 2022 to shorten his stick…whatever it was, it worked as Weegar became the first Flames defenceman to score 20 goals since Mark Giordano in 2015-16.
His overall impact in the defensive zone took a hit, likely for multiple reasons. He had no consistent partner and was leaned on heavily with a skeleton crew on defence post-trade deadline.
It didn’t click with Rasmus Andersson or Noah Hanifin, the two players he shared the ice with most of the first half of the season. His impact was strongest alongside the rangy Russians in Nikita Zadorov and Daniil Miromanov.
Defensive Pairings with 100+ TOI
Skater 1Skater 2TOIxGoals For %
MacKenzie WeegarNikita Zadorov110.558.23
Daniil MiromanovMacKenzie Weegar29657.44
Chris TanevNoah Hanifin743.250.71
MacKenzie WeegarRasmus Andersson755.850.34
MacKenzie WeegarNoah Hanifin103.149.32
Oliver KylingtonRasmus Andersson243.647.67
Noah HanifinRasmus Andersson209.147.66
Brayden PachalOliver Kylington215.844.46
(data from Evolving Hockey)
Weegar’s career season was more than just goals and points. It was underscored by his emergent leadership and attitude, both of which highlighted a positive individual performance in a non-playoff season. Alongside Blake Coleman and Nazem Kadri, Weegar solidified himself as an individual the Flames organization can count on both off and on the ice.
The immaculate vibes, strong on-ice play, and leadership Weegar brought this year would be desirable traits for all teams in the league. But perhaps even more so for a team looking to rebuild its foundation and culture.

The future

It’s been a frustrating couple of seasons overall but Weegar has emerged as a quality player and person who is committed to the team and city even in the face of some lean years.
It’s just an easy way out…to leave here it would be a lot more rewarding to stick this through and come out of this and see it on the other side…when you go through tough times…you sacrifice yourself through the tough times, you’ll get rewarded for it. I truly believe that this team has a lot of potential.” – MacKenzie Weegar
Generally, 30 is the age we start to write players off as being in their inevitable phase of decline. But having just had the best season of his career Weegar looks poised to age like fine wine.
In a year of change and unmet expectations, all that’s left to cling to are potential building blocks and the Flames certainly have a building block in number 52. He seems committed to the city, the team, and the vision of Craig Conroy moving forward.

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