What can MacKenzie Weegar bring to the Calgary Flames?
Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
8 months ago
In the late hours of Friday, July 22, 2022, the Calgary Flames made one of their biggest trades in franchise history. Matthew Tkachuk – with a fresh 8 year, $9.5 million extension in place – and a conditional fourth-round pick to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt, and a conditional 2025 first round pick (lottery protected).
Let’s take a look at what Mackenzie Weegar brings to the Calgary Flames.
D – #52
28 years old
6’0” 201 lbs
Contract: $3.25 million – expires at end of 2022-23 season
Getting Jonathan Huberdeau to replace Johnny Gaudreau was nice – unexpected – but nice. Getting Weegar on top of that is fantastic. A top pair defenceman with great skills on both sides of the puck. Why he was ever available from Florida I won’t ever understand because he’s not the type of player you ever move on from – he’s the one you do everything you can to keep.
Your newest member of the Calgary Flames – let’s learn more about Mackenzie Weegar.
A little bit of explanation for anyone reading that doesn’t quite know how to read these charts
Left “rink” chart: The top zone is the attacking one while the bottom is the players defensive zone. Red is an indicator of shot attempts – the more layered and dark the red is the more shot attempts come from that area of the ice while the player is deployed. That’s great in the upper rink and a bad sign in the lower one. Flip that for blue – it means when the player is deployed a lack of shot attempts come from that area whilst they are out on the ice. The darker the blue the less amount of attempts come from that area. On the right side of the rink chart is the special teams impact in their relative zone that matters based on the special teams situation.
Right “wave” chart: Nice clear headers here give each line a clear indication of what they mean. The colour tiers on the right of the chart show the % of players that fall into the categories of impact. The higher into the black it is the less likely other players look like them. Same can be said with the red. Black is positive value for the category while red is negative value – all relative to the entire league.
In terms of pure defensive ability Chris Tanev answers to nobody, but Weegar isn’t as far behind him as you’d think. He specializes in limiting shot quality and nullifying high danger chances. Some will call this lightly and say he’s a top 4 defencemen – in reality think top 2. The front of the net is a no-fly zone for all those wanting to score goals while Weegar is deployed.
Normally that alone is enough, but this guy has an offensive game as well. In terms of passing he has some of the best zone exit numbers amongst defencemen in the league. Translation: Weegar consistently gets the puck out of his own zone with possession of the puck – not a dump chance. He rivals Tanev at being able to pick up dump-ins with possession too. An all-around two-way defenceman at an elite level.
One criticism people in Florida tended to have was the propensity for the odd turnover in his defensive zone. Flames used to have a really valuable player with the same aspect in his game – TJ Brodie. I think most fans wouldn’t hesitate to see him back in the lineup on any given day – well you’re getting it and then some with the Flame new number 52.
As mentioned earlier Weegar is a UFA at the end of the upcoming season. With the amount of Cap Space available to the Flames right now going into the 2023/24 season it’s almost inconceivable to think they wouldn’t be able to lock up Weegar. As long as there is an appetite for him to stay Calgary from his camp then there’s no doubt in my mind, he’ll be a Flame for a long time.
With less than 350 games of mileage on him it’s not like he doesn’t have plenty of runway left too. He’ll be able to grow with this team and be a key member of the new core going forward. It may not be as flashy as someone who finished second in the league in points, but don’t get it fooled Weegar should be getting just as much hype as his trade counterpart.
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