Sports: Calgary is a 'great fit' for new Flame Huberdeau

Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar open to long-term extensions with Flames

  Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar open to long-term extensions with Flames The worry for many Flames fans when they saw the return was whether these two players would be around more than a few months given their contract situations. After watching Johnny Gaudreau leave in free agency without getting anything in return, the Flames won’t be able to do the same with Huberdeau and Weegar. If they aren’t going to re-sign, flipping them somewhere else before the end of the season will be critical.Of course, extensions won’t come cheap. Huberdeau has been one of the top playmakers in the league for years now and is coming off a 115-point season.

CALGARY — After a tumultuous start to the off-season, the Calgary Flames announced some good news late Thursday night with the signing of newly acquired left-winger Jonathan Huberdeau to an eight-year, $84 million contract extension

  Calgary is a 'great fit' for new Flame Huberdeau © Provided by The Canadian Press

.“They're the team that traded for me, and you want to play for a team that wants you,” said Huberdeau on Friday morning. “I'm excited to be a Flame for the next nine years. That was my goal, right from the get-go, and we got it done.”

Last season, Calgary was 50-21-11 to take top spot in the Pacific Division and post the franchise’s second-best regular season in five decades. But after being knocked out in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Edmonton Oilers, the bad news continued into the off-season with the departure of star forward Johnny Gaudreau in free agency, who signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Report: Jonathan Huberdeau unhappy with how trade to Flames played out

  Report: Jonathan Huberdeau unhappy with how trade to Flames played out The NHL was shaken up late on Friday night when the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers put together what may have been the biggest trade of the salary cap era. The Flames sent forward Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2025 draft to South Florida in exchange for star winger Jonathan Huberdeau, defenceman MacKenzie Weegar, forward prospect Cole Schwindt, and a conditional first-round pick in 2025. The hockey world wasThe hockey world was stunned, but one key member of the transaction was left distraught by the news.

Things took another bad turn when star right-winger Matthew Tkachuk informed the team that he would not sign an extension, putting him in a position to leave as an unrestricted free agent at the end of the upcoming season.

Not about to risk losing two-thirds of what was one of the NHL’s top lines last season, without getting something in return, Flames general manager Brad Treliving pulled the trigger July 22 on a blockbuster sign-and-trade deal with Florida that sent Tkachuk — with an eight-year, $76-million deal agreed to — and a fourth-round pick to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Huberdeau, defenceman MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt, and a first-round pick.

Less than two weeks later, Huberdeau is no longer a year away from free agency, also, after agreeing to the biggest deal in Flames’ franchise history.

Gilbertson: Flames GM Treliving lands impressive haul in blockbuster with Panthers

  Gilbertson: Flames GM Treliving lands impressive haul in blockbuster with Panthers Most figured this was a trade that Brad Treliving simply couldn’t win. When a star player is angling for a change of scenery, and especially when the entire hockey world is aware of it, it’s tough to maximize the value of the return package. Many figured that the Calgary Flames, faced with the double-whammy departure of two top forwards, might be forced into a rebuild. With Friday’s late-night home-run swing, Treliving squashed both theories. The Flames’ general manager shipped Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a monster haul — assists machine Jonathan Huberdeau, rock-solid defenceman MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and a conditional first-r

“I only had one year left and I was like, you know what, I want a commitment and I want to turn the page for good and focus on the new team,” Huberdeau said. “I thought it was a great fit for me, great city to play in, that's why I wanted to get it done.”

The signing comes just a few days after Treliving flew to Montreal to meet Huberdeau in person over dinner, a gesture that was appreciated and influential on the 29-year-old’s decision.

“He didn't have to do that, we could have had a Zoom or something like that, but I think in person, that's how you get to know someone better and I appreciated him taking the time to come and see me from Calgary, it’s not a short flight,” said Huberdeau. “We just had a great conversation, and he flew back right after. That made me think that they really care about me and they want me to stay here.”

For Huberdeau, who will be 30 when the contract kicks in, the $10.5-million annual average value is a hefty raise from his current six-year deal that pays him $5.9-million annually. It also concludes a wild stretch for Huberdeau, who had been part of the Panthers organization for 11 years after being selected third overall in the 2011 NHL Draft.

Flames' Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar open to signing long-term in Calgary

  Flames' Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar open to signing long-term in Calgary It seems like one of the biggest trades in the salary cap era is getting sweeter and sweeter for the Calgary Flames. On Monday, newly acquired duo Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar both expressed their desire to remain in Calgary long-term, turning what was making out to be a dreadful Flames offseason into something of a renaissance. Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar sound very interested in staying in Calgary for a while. Thoughts? pic.twitter.

“Emotionally, it's been a roller-coaster for the past few weeks,” Huberdeau admitted. “Obviously, the shock of the trade, I was a little down, but at the end of the day, you want to look forward in life and that's what I told myself and my family. It was important to turn the page.”

In Calgary, Huberdeau will continue to pursue post-season success, which has mostly eluded him in his pro career so far. In his 10 years with the Panthers, he only made the post-season three times and last year’s second-round exit was the only trip beyond the first round.

It will also be the first time the Montreal native will be playing in a Canadian market since 2012 when he wrapped up his junior hockey career with the Saint John Sea Dogs.

He says his mom and dad can’t wait to head out west and check out his new city.

“They were really excited,” Huberdeau said about his parents, who will be on hand at the Scotiabank Saddledome when Calgary opens the season on Oct. 13 against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. “It's a big chapter in my life and they're going to follow me anywhere I go, but obviously they're going to be there. They've already booked their flights.”

Coming off a career-best 115-point season in which Huberdeau tied Gaudreau for second in league scoring, the six-foot-one forward is eager to get back at it.

“Just excited to get going,” he said. “Now that the business side is out of it, it's go win some games.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2022.

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press

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