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What do the Calgary Flames have to show from their trades with Florida?
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
During Brad Treliving’s nine years as general manager of the Calgary Flames, the team drafted in the early first round twice: selecting Sam Bennett at fourth overall in 2014 and Matthew Tkachuk at sixth overall in 2016. By the time Treliving departed from the Flames organization in the 2023 off-season, both of those players were gone – traded to the Florida Panthers in swaps 15 months apart.
So… what do the Flames have to show, presently, for those trades of their two most highly-drafted players?
April 12, 2021: Calgary trades Sam Bennett and a 2022 sixth-round pick to Florida in exchange for Emil Heineman and a 2022 second-round pick
Bennett’s situation was both pretty fascinating and, in a way, a cautionary tale.
Bennett had a great training camp in 2014, until he aggravated a nagging shoulder injury and it turned out to require surgery. He went under the knife and finished the 2014-15 season with Kingston of the OHL, then joined the Flames for the end of the regular season after Kingston’s year finished out. He played well enough in a late-season debut that he effectively forced his way into the playoff rotation, eventually burning a year of both his entry-level deal and his waiver exemption. By the time it started to look like that Bennett could benefit from a bit of polishing in the AHL, it was 2017-18 and he would’ve required waivers to go down and so it wasn’t an option.
In part due to coaching changes and in part due to his youth, Bennett slid down the Flames’ lineup and often played third and fourth-line minutes during much of his run with the team, never really carving out a clear and consistent role. He had filed for salary arbitration in 2019 and, as a pending restricted free agent in 2021 who had recently requested a trade, seemed like a potential candidate to either (a) accept his qualifying offer and walk to free agency or (b) file for arbitration again. Seeming like a change-of-scenery candidate, the Flames sent him to Florida, where he’s fit in rather nicely.
Both Heineman and the draft pick were moved before the following year’s trade deadline as part of Treliving’s efforts to bolster a contending roster. The second-rounder was packaged with a couple other picks and sent to Seattle for rental centre Calle Jarnkrok. Heineman, an unsigned prospect, went to Montreal as part of the Tyler Toffoli trade. That deal was essentially two parts: a 2022 first-rounder and Heineman for Toffoli, and Tyler Pitlick sent to Montreal along with a fifth-rounder as a sweetener to make the cap math work for Calgary.
Indirectly, via the Toffoli swap to the Devils this past summer, the Bennett trade paved the way for the acquisition of current prospect Aydar Suniev and main roster player Yegor Sharangovich from New Jersey.
July 22, 2022: Calgary trades Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional 2025 fourth-round pick to Florida in exchange for Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, Cole Schwindt and a conditional 2025 first-round pick
For the Cole’s Notes version of Tkachuk’s history, here we go: Tkachuk was a good player as a rookie, then gradually became a really good player as he matured and figured out what he could (and could not) get away with in the NHL. The Flames made an attempt to sign him long-term in the 2019 off-season but couldn’t consummate a trade that would open up enough cap space to do that deal, so they signed a three-year bridge deal instead.
As an RFA in the 2022 off-season, Tkachuk’s camp had conversations with non-Flames teams about his future – which is his right and 100% allowed in his circumstances – and he decided that he liked the opportunities outside of Calgary better long-term. So he informed the Flames of that, and this trade was eventually worked out. (Reports were that Carolina offered a package that was more “futures-based” than Florida’s.) The Flames exercised the NHL’s first sign-and-trade, which was agreed to early in the day but not processed until much later because the league couldn’t figure out how to actually process it within their systems.
The conditional first-rounder is now functionally traded to Montreal, as a few weeks later it was packaged with Sean Monahan in a trade for future considerations. That trade was a cap dump to allow the Flames the space to sign Nazem Kadri out of free agency. Huberdeau and Weegar signed long-term extensions before the 2022-23 regular season began. Weegar has thrived in Calgary, Kadri has played well after an uneven 2022-23 season, while Huberdeau has struggled. (Schwindt, for his part, has been carving out a role as a two-way centre in the AHL.)
So fundamentally, the Tkachuk trade gave the Flames Huberdeau, Weegar and Schwindt directly, and Kadri indirectly via the cap dump trade that the draft pick allowed to happen.
What do you think about the Bennett and Tkachuk trades with Florida? In retrospect, are you satisfied with the returns the Flames got from the two trades? Which trade netted the Flames better value relative to what they gave up? Let us know in the comments!
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