After the initial shock finally wore off after learning that the Florida Panthers had been traded to Calgary, Jonathan Huberdeau and McKenzie Wager are set to start with the Flames.
“It was a big shock for me and my family,” Huberdeau, who has been with the Panthers since they drafted him third overall in 2011, said at a media availability Monday. “Late on a Friday night, you don’t think you’re going to get a call, but we did and that’s part of the business of hockey.”
Calgary also received forward prospect Cole Schundt and a conditional 2025 first-round pick and a conditional 2025 fourth-round pick in exchange for Matthew Tkachuk.
The Calgary Flames trade Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers.
After taking some time to digest the blockbuster trade, Huberdeau says he’s excited to turn the page.
“This is a new chapter,” Huberdeau said. “Going through the weekend, I thought about everything, and that’s part of life, and now we’ve got to move on and I’m excited to be a Flame and I’m excited to meet the guys and go into it. New city.”
Their initial surprise is understandable, considering both players were key parts of Florida’s best season in franchise history. The Panthers won the Presidents Trophy with the NHL’s best regular season record of 58–18–6.
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“I understand that’s part of the business of hockey and that aspect of it. But on a Friday at 11 p.m.? It was a little unexpected,” said Weger, a seventh-round pick out of Florida in 2013.
“We have a lot of emotional ties there, a lot of good friends, and they treated us well. So, a little emotional, but at the end of the week, you get more excited.”
With Calgary and Florida both coming off second-round playoff exits — the Panthers were upset 4-1 by the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Flames were upset by the archrival Edmonton Oilers — the two teams will look significantly different next season. .
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Haberdeau, a 29-year-old left winger, finished second in scoring with a career-high 115 points (30 goals, 85 assists). Weegar, a 28-year-old top-pair defenseman, led the Panthers in total ice time, while posting a career-best 44 points (eight goals, 36 assists).
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A 24-year-old right winger, Tkachuk is coming off his best season in which he scored 104 points (42 goals, 62 assists). The trade came nine days after another winger on the Flames’ top line, team-leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau, who tied Huberdeau with 115 points, left as a free agent, signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets. .
“It’s obviously been an emotional week (in Calgary) with the ups and downs and losing two great players,” Weger said. “But for Hubby and I to come in and get a little more excitement around town — I don’t think it’s a rebuild, when you bring me and Jonny in, we’re here to win. “
Tkachuk was dealt after he told general manager Brad Treliving that he wasn’t ready to sign long-term in Calgary. The same question now applies to Huberdeau and Weegar, who are both one season away from being unrestricted free agents.
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“I’m ready to be in Calgary for a long time,” said Huberdeau, who has one year remaining on a six-year contract worth US$5.9-million.
“They’re the ones who traded for me and that means they want me. You want to play for a team that wants you and that’s all I want.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Wager, who is in line for a raise after he wrapped up a three-year deal with a $3.25 million cap hit.
“Are we a winning team? What’s the city like? How are the teammates? How are the coaches? Those are some of the boxes you check to sign with a team,” the Ottawa native said. “I’ve heard good things about all these things in Calgary.”
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He will also be playing for a new bench boss in Darrell Sutter, 63, who led Calgary to a 50-21-11 record and the top spot in the Pacific Division, the last of Jack Adams’ coach of the year. Won the award.
“Obviously he’s got a lot of experience and a lot of great experience, so hubby and I are excited to get to know Daryl on a personal level and obviously learn a lot from him,” Weger said.
Although he never met his new head coach, his reputation is well known.
“You know you have to work hard,” Huberdeau said.
Playing his home games north of the border for the first time since turning pro is also something he is looking forward to.
“Seeing you guys in the playoffs and seeing the Sea of Red,” Wager said. “And to be a part of it now, it’s a really good feeling. It’s very surreal for me, obviously Jonny and I are Canadian kids.
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