When it’s free agency season, every team’s fans think that they have exactly what it takes to land the big names. When one of those big names is the son of a former beloved player and current front office member, the frenzy kicks up a notch. Why wouldn’t that player want to come to St. Louis? It’s their home!
Blues fans got a big reminder that the NHL isn’t about where you’re from, it’s about where you can sign - and in the case of trades, what the clubs want. The Blues may’ve been on Matthew Tkachuk’s list of trade destinations, but as an RFA, he had to go to wherever his current club felt they could get the best deal. About 11 pm last night, that’s what happened.
We have acquired Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional fourth-round draft pick from Calgary in exchange for Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and Florida’s lottery-protected first-round selection in the 2025 draft.— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) July 23, 2022
» https://t.co/icjlgiFxEd pic.twitter.com/XDcFc0eNyd
The Panthers were able to then sign Tkachuk to an eight year, $76 million contract. The move puts the Panthers $3,375,834 over the cap for right now, so more moves are forthcoming.
With Florida offering up Jonathan Huberdeau in the deal, the Flames are getting another excellent 100+ point player in return - and that’s exactly what they needed out of the deal. The team isn’t just losing Tkachuk in this deal; they also need to find a way to partially compensate for the loss of Johnny Gaudreau.
Huberdeau finished last season with 115 points, which is 11 more than Tkachuk did last year. Tkachuk outperformed in goal scoring (42 goals to Huberdeau’s 30), but in the deal the Flames are getting a scorer who has defensive awareness - Huberdeau finished with a +35. On top of Huberdeau, the Flames also got MacKenzie Weegar back in the deal. Weegar is a puck moving defenseman with 36 assists to his name.
Who were the Blues going to offer that competes with that? Torey Krug’s name has been on the block, but he’s two years older than Weegar and about $4 million more expensive for the same production. As far as forwards go, if Jordan Kyrou was on the table, he doesn’t match Huberdeau in production or consistency. The upshot Kyrou would have in a trade is that at the end of this season he is a RFA, while Huberdeau is a UFA.
The Blues don’t have a deep stable of young prospects currently to act as pot-sweeteners, unless Doug Armstrong wants to continue to trade away potential key parts of the team’s future for a win now player. Doing that on top of dealing points producers like Kyrou and losing David Perron to free agency would send a mixed message, considering those latter moves could leave the Blues worse off (especially if Tarasenko leaves at the end of this season as well). Losing three of the Blues best scorers plus a top prospect like Scott Perunovich or Jake Neighbours on top of depleting the Blues’ offense by nearly 90 goals in the span of two off-seasons might not be something that Doug Armstrong wants to do. Throw in losing another first round draft pick on top of that, and it becomes clear how the Panthers’ were able to put together a solid trade package for Tkachuk instead of the Blues.
One positive in this situation: both of the Tkachuk boys are in the Eastern Conference. Rumors swirled that the Predators and Stars were in the mix, or at least at first. It’s better that Tkachuk goes to an Eastern Conference team than a fellow Central Division one.