The comprehensive Tkachuk/Huberdeau/Weegar trade timeline
Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
9 months ago
It has been just over a month since Brad Treliving finalized one of the biggest trades in franchise history, and by far the biggest move of his tenure. In fact, July’s trade between Calgary and Florida that saw Matthew Tkachuk, Jonathan Huberdeau, and MacKenzie Weegar all change teams might be the biggest trade in the cap era. And it happened in a lightning quick fashion. Here’s how it played out.
May 28 – Wrapping up the season
Much like fellow departed former teammate Johnny Gaudreau, we weren’t getting public indications of a Tkachuk exit when he spoke to the media for the final time last season. Two days after the Flames were eliminated by Edmonton in round two, Tkachuk was quizzed about his future on locker clean-out day and was asked directly if he’d be open to signing a long-term extension.
“Absolutely, I’ve loved it here,” Tkachuk said. “I’ve grown up here, the more I think of it, I came here (and) I didn’t know anything about Calgary, I didn’t know anything about Western Canada. I kind of just fell in love with it here and I think ever since the Covid shutdown…the more you realize…how appreciative people are here of our team and how much passion they have for it.
“I just kind of love the people here and, you know, it’s not only cool to go places and have people come up and talk about what you meant to them and everything. But, I don’t know, just how happy that the team makes them feel and how great they’ve made my life here, just the people in general so…yeah to answer your question, I would be very open to that.”
In late May and well into June, conversation surrounding Tkachuk was focused on how much and how long. Would he get more than Gaudreau? Would Calgary announce identical deals on the same day? It seems like years ago, but that was only three months ago.
Early June – The first offer
On the night of May 28, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on a 32 Thoughts intermission segment the Flames “weren’t going to wait too long” to get negotiations started with both Tkachuk and Gaudreau. Friedman suggested Calgary would go to both “very quickly and very aggressively” with initial offers, which is exactly what happened.
Somewhere around the time Gaudreau received his initial offer, the Flames put their first offer on the table to Tkachuk’s camp. That offer remained with Tkachuk and company for around the next month or so.
July 7 and 8 – The NHL Draft
When the NHL world descended on Montreal for the 2022 NHL Draft, Calgary’s situation was very much in vogue. Much of that was due to uncertainty about Gaudreau, who was less than a week from unrestricted free agency. But Tkachuk’s name entered the public conversation with a number of pundits suggesting he might be a name on the move.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported teams had “quietly begun gauging interest” in Treliving’s willingness to move Tkachuk, which was our first hint something big might be in play. However, the general manager publicly shut down those rumours when I spoke with him on the morning of day one.
“We want to sign both players,” Treliving told me. “We’ve made long-term proposals to both players. We’ve tried to do everything to get them signed. Ultimately… the player’s got that decision to make. We just continue to work at it.
“From our end, our only objective is that we want to sign them. If that becomes not feasible…then you pivot. Just so everybody’s clear, the only place we’re spending our calories right now is trying to get both these players signed to long-term commitments. We’ll continue down that path until told otherwise.”
Tkachuk didn’t move during draft week and neither did Gaudreau. The Flames made three selections and returned home to prepare for free agency. At the time, I doubt Treliving and company knew they were preparing for one of the busiest, craziest, and most significant stretches in franchise history.
July 17 – Breaking the news
On the night of Sunday, July 17, Treliving received a phone call from Craig Oster at Newport Sports Management. Tkachuk’s agent informed the GM his client didn’t intend to sign with Calgary long-term and it might be a good idea to start looking at other options.
Earlier in the day Tkachuk had informed the Flames he wasn’t filing for player-elected salary arbitration, which kept two things on the table for him: an offer sheet and the ability to take a $9 million, one-year qualifying offer a few days later. What was viewed as a business decision by Tkachuk’s camp at the time ended up being foreshadowing for what was to come.
July 18 – Club-elected arbitration and trade talks begin
The following day, Treliving decided to make a similar business decision by filing for club-elected salary arbitration with Tkachuk. This was done for one reason and one reason only: to extend the team’s window to trade their superstar forward. Had they not taken this step, Tkachuk would have been able to accept his QO on July 22 and significantly weaken Calgary’s negotiating position.
That same day Tkachuk called Treliving personally to reiterate and explain his position. You can imagine how difficult that conversation would have been. Drafted sixth overall in 2016, Tkachuk was Treliving’s most successful draft pick and had developed into a 104-point player as a member of the Flames. To get that news just days after Gaudreau had opted to leave Calgary and sign with Columbus would have made Tkachuk’s revelation that much harder to accept.
But Treliving pivoted quickly. As he’d say in the following days “you can crawl into the fetal position and suck your thumb, or you can deal with”. The Flames chose the latter and immediately went to work in maximizing their return in a Tkachuk trade.
Treliving received a list of preferred teams Tkachuk would accept a trade to and, more importantly, sign a long-term extension with. I’m not certain how many teams were on his list, but Treliving did reveal two of the teams were immediately eliminated because they simply couldn’t make it work with their cap and/or assets situation.
One of the first teams Calgary talked to was Florida and the names of Huberdeau and Weegar were mentioned from the get-go. As soon as those names entered the equation, the Panthers became the desired trade partner and the Flames pushed forward in completing a deal that made sense for both sides.
July 22 – The blockbuster
The negotiations with Calgary and Florida continued throughout the week as Treliving kept Oster and the Tkachuk camp apprised of the situation. The final deal was agreed upon sometime on the afternoon of Friday, July 22 but wasn’t made official until much later that evening. In fact, the Flames were just minutes from breaking their own blockbuster news before Friedman and Frank Seravalli did their thing.
|To Calgary:||To Florida:|
|F Jonathan Huberdeau|
D MacKenzie Weegar
F Cole Schwindt
2025 conditional first-round pick
|F Matthew Tkachuk|
2025 conditional fourth-round pick
A few things prolonged the negotiations between the two sides. First off, the conditional first-round pick was already partially tied to a prior deal made by the Panthers (the Claude Giroux trade with Philadelphia), which made including it in another transaction quite complicated. Of course, we’d learn including that trade in a subsequent trade with Montreal would take complicated conditions to a whole new level.
On top of that, Treliving, Florida GM Bill Zito, and Oster were involved in the first ever sign-and-trade deal in NHL history. To make that happen, Zito and Oster had to negotiate a new deal, which would end up being eight years at $9.5 million annually for a total of $76 million. Once the finer points were finalized between the Panthers and Tkachuk, Treliving filed the contract to the league and then pushed forward with the trade.
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