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Sunday hockey notes

With Matthew Tkachuk trade to Panthers, Flames made the most of a bad situation

After being traded to the Panthers Friday night, Matthew Tkachuk signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension.Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

It was looking like the Flames’ most predictable path was to trade Matthew Tkachuk for a disappointing return, overpay for Nazem Kadri, and let their summer of angst continue.

Did we mention they have the oldest-looking arena in the league, and their most recent deal for a new home recently collapsed?

Yes, it has been a rough few months for the Flames, who saw their season end on a Connor McDavid overtime goal in Game 5 of the second round. Losing the Battle of Alberta was a kick to the teeth. Seeing Johnny Gaudreau walk was a kick to the gut. And if trends held, they were poised to get kicked again on a trade for Tkachuk after the restricted free agent informed management he didn’t want to stay long term.


Credit general manager Brad Treliving: He was down but not out.

He and Florida’s Bill Zito struck a bold, memorable deal late Friday, Tkachuk heading to the Panthers with a conditional fourth-round pick for Jonathan Huberdeau, Mackenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt, and a first-round pick in 2025.

Quite frankly, wow.

This was as stunning a deal as we’ve seen since the Shea Weber-for-P.K. Subban swap in 2016. The Panthers got the better player, but the Flames may have won the deal, by a significant margin.

No question the Panthers got a gem in Tkachuk. He is 24 years old, and has the size (6 feet 2 inches and 202 pounds) and the kind of skills that kids want to imitate. Playing 18 minutes a night, he scored 42 goals and 104 points last season. He did that while irritating everyone who got in his way. After Tkachuk took the Flames to arbitration, teams were set to line up their best proposals before their Aug. 11 hearing date.

Here’s hoping he embraces the South Florida lifestyle. Let’s see some Tkachuk on yachts in Miami, on rooftops in Fort Lauderdale, heck, on riverboats in the Everglades. It’s a great place to spend your 20s. Surely he’ll get along with Aleksander Barkov, as good a 200-foot player as there is, and score some tap-ins to go along with the more difficult goals he manufactures.


Calgary would have easily signed the deal Tkachuk inked in Sunrise (eight years, $76 million, a $9.5 million cap hit that puts him equal with Charlie McAvoy, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Brayden Point, Jamie Benn, Seth Jones, Adam Fox, Alex Ovechkin, Mark Stone, and Nikita Kucherov). That’s now Florida’s tag. It also helps set the market for David Pastrnak.

Jonathan Huberdeau headlined a massive return for the Flames.FRANK FRANKLIN II/Associated Press

The Bruins, hoping to give their superstar winger a contract extension, likely won’t have to pay more than that $9.5 million AAV, perhaps matching McAvoy. As for wingers, it seems the contracts for Artemi Panarin ($11.643 million) and Mitch Marner ($10.903 million), signed in 2019, were outliers. Post-pandemic, only Barkov, a center, has hit the $10 million mark on a new deal.

Now with three of the game’s richest deals on their books (Barkov, Tkachuk, and $10 million goalie Sergei Bobrovsky), the Panthers are as win-now as their rivals across Alligator Alley. The Panthers’ next first-round pick is in 2026. They sent them to Montreal (2023), Philadelphia (2024), and now Calgary (2025). They don’t have Ben Chiarot or Claude Giroux, and trading a foundational pillar such as Huberdeau shows that Zito, a former player agent (Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask) in the GM’s chair for the first time, is unafraid to take a swing.


“We are thrilled to be able to add a generational talent to our lineup,” said Zito, speaking words any GM would like to. Blues GM Doug Armstrong, who had to be grinning when he saw hometown boy Tkachuk wanted out of Calgary, has to feel the rug has been pulled out. He had the assets to get it done.

The early winner on this one, it seems, is Treliving.

Huberdeau, 29, and a first-rounder would have been a strong return for Tkachuk. Huberdeau scored 115 points last season and will play next season on an expiring deal worth $5.9 million a year. His offensive gifts, largely perimeter-based, will go a long way in replacing what Gaudreau brought on a nightly basis. If your power play is making good use of Huberdeau’s deft touch, it’s probably scoring its share of goals.

Credit the Flames for also snatching Weegar in the deal. Weegar, who earlier in his career ate a stream of Noel Acciari lefts in a Bruins-Panthers game, has developed into a high-caliber defender who adds value offensively. He would fit in anyone’s top four, and he makes the Flames’ already stout defense a little more dynamic.

The fact they also got a prospect, Schwindt (a third-round pick in 2019 currently in the AHL), and a first-round pick while sending back only Tkachuk and a conditional fourth means Treliving did as well as anyone could. If he re-signs Huberdeau without overpaying, the “W” grows.


Treliving pulled this off instead of watching 72 goals, 219 points, and two prime-aged superstars walk out the door for nothing.

Since Gaudreau picked the Blue Jackets in free agency and stunned everyone in the hockey world — including the Blue Jackets — the C of Red had been a bloodbath. It was painful for Flames fans, who watched their team develop into a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and now wondered how they’d stay relevant in the Western Conference. How about a star-for-star trade?

Flames general manager Brad Treliving did well to salvage a bad situation when Matthew Tkachuk asked out.Jeff McIntosh/Associated Press

It might stand as a close runner-up to Gaudreau-to-Columbus in the “most stunning 2022 offseason moment,” but it’s the kind of trade we haven’t seen in three decades.

It brings to mind October 1991, when Islanders GM Bill Torrey and the Sabres’ Gerry Meehan stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to agree on Pat LaFontaine to the Sabres and Pierre Turgeon to the Islanders in a whopper of a trade. LaFontaine, who put up 54 goals and 105 points two seasons before, was coming off a 41-goal, 85-point season. He was holding out because the Islanders were slow to renegotiate his $425,000 salary.

Turgeon, who put up 106 points two years before, became trade bait after slipping to 79 points. He went to the Islanders with Uwe Krupp, Benoit Hogue, and Dave McLlwain, while LaFontaine went to Western New York with Randy Wood, Randy Hillier, and a draft pick.


The last (only?) time two players coming directly off 100-point seasons crossed paths in a trade: August 1988, when the Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky (149 points), Mike Krushelnyski (47), and Marty McSorley (26), but stocked the cupboard with Jimmy Carson (107), seventh overall pick Martin Gelinas, and three future first-rounders.

The last top-10 scorer to change teams via free agency was Adam Oates in 2002. Oates, who finished with 78 points in 80 games after a deadline deal from Washington to Philadelphia, was a late-career, high-priced rental the Flyers opted not to bring back.

Jason Allison, who put up 95 points in 2001 in his last of three seasons as the Bruins’ leading scorer, was dealt to the Kings in October after he wouldn’t go long term with Boston.

The Penguins traded the NHL’s leading scorer, Jaromir Jagr, to the Capitals in July 2001. He signed a deal for $11 million a year that October, the richest in NHL history at the time.

Hard to imagine a team losing two 100-point scorers in the same offseason, but the Flames made the most of it.


Winners, losers of the offseason

The Blue Jackets stunned the league by landing Flames star Johnny Gaudreau.Craig Lassig/Associated Press

Teams that have had the best offseasons:

Columbus — Grabbing Johnny Gaudreau won’t make the Blue Jackets Cup contenders, but it does make them an outside playoff threat. More importantly, it did wonders for Columbus’s image. The power play could be top five in the league if Gaudreau is dishing to Patrik Laine, who reupped for four years at $8.7 million per. It wasn’t all roses for GM Jarmo Kekalainen; the less said about the Erik Gudbranson contract (four years at $4 million per), the better.

Ottawa — Image-changing summer for GM Pierre Dorion, who signed Claude Giroux, traded for Alex DeBrincat, extended Josh Norris, and replaced Matt Murray and his contract with Cam Talbot. Looking like the team that will push Boston the most for a playoff spot, if it can get a shaky defense sorted.

Detroit — Signed a slew of veterans — Andrew Copp, David Perron, Dominik Kubalik, Ben Chiarot, Olli Maatta, and Mark Pysyk — to add to the young talent. Ville Husso may or may not be a No. 1 goalie, but he’s better than Alex Nedeljkovic.

Edmonton — Brought in a high-caliber goalie in Jack Campbell and re-upped Evander Kane, both at around $5 million. Mattias Janmark helps the bottom six. Offloaded Zack Kassian.

Tampa Bay — Eight years each for Anthony Cirelli, Erik Cernak, and Mikhail Sergachev, and seven years for Nick Paul. As usual, the Lightning will find a way to wiggle out of any of those deals if they become problematic. They had to sacrifice Ryan McDonagh.

Washington — Liked the Dylan Strome gamble (one year, $3.5 million), even though he’s no Nicklas Backstrom, and the Connor Brown addition, even though he’s no Tom Wilson. Darcy Kuemper is a desperately needed upgrade in goal.

Pittsburgh — Was it financially prudent to keep Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin? Only if they stay healthy. Is Rickard Rakell for six years times $5 million a good bet? Maybe. Was it wise to trade John Marino for Ty Smith, and Mike Matheson for Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling? Yes.

Nashville — Signing Nino Niederreiter, especially for two years and $8 million (the same contract the Bruins gave Jake DeBrusk) was a strong play. The Predators were happy to give Tampa cap relief by taking McDonagh. Keeping Filip Forsberg made the fans happy.

Colorado — Kept Valeri Nichushkin (eight years), Artturi Lehkonen (five years), and Josh Manson (four years) around, and with money coming off the books, Joe Sakic should have enough space to retain Nathan MacKinnon and Bowen Byram next year. Alexandar Georgiev, brought in for picks, should spell Kuemper.

Los Angeles — Shipped out a first-rounder for Kevin Fiala, but the Kings have plenty of prospects and he’ll be a major boost to the top six. They will make noise next season.

Dallas — Mason Marchment (four years, $4.5 million per) was a solid roll of the dice.

The Maple Leafs resigned Mark Giordano on a bargain deal this summer.Claus Andersen/Getty

In the middle:

Carolina — Maxed out by ditching Max Domi and adding Max Pacioretty. Brought in Brent Burns to replace Tony DeAngelo. Should be about the same.

Anaheim — Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano will help fill the Ryan Getzlaf and Rakell voids. Still waiting for a Hampus Lindholm replacement, and the defense needs bodies.

Seattle — Badly in need of scoring and now hoping Andre Burakovsky (career-high 22-goal, 61-point season in Colorado) wasn’t a product of his previous situation.

New York Rangers — Vincent Trocheck is a passable replacement for Ryan Strome. Apparently, Jaroslav Halak wants to be the Slovakian Mike Sillinger.

St. Louis — Couldn’t get Matthew Tkachuk, and four years (at $4 million per) for Nick Leddy might be a bit too long, but everyone will be happy about locking up Robert Thomas. Noel Acciari (one year, $1.25 million) was a sneaky-good move.

Boston — Would move up significantly if it re-signs Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Pavel Zacha, if extended, is an upgrade over Erik Haula.

Toronto — Not sure the Maple Leafs are better in goal with Murray and Ilya Samsonov. Still wondering how they got Mark Giordano, a 35-point defenseman and former Norris winner, to agree to an $800,000 cap hit.

Florida — Lost deadline additions Giroux and Chiarot, and breakout contributor Marchment, but the Tkachuk move was an eye-opener.

New Jersey — Lost out on Gaudreau but added Ondrej Palat and Vitek Vanecek, and Haula will help.

Vancouver — Ilya Mikheyev improves the middle six, and as a fourth-liner Curtis Lazar is as solid as they come.

San Jose — The Sharks will miss Burns the player but not his contract. Kaapo Kahkonen could be a capable NHL starter.

Calgary — Turned a brutal offseason into a decent one, all things considered.

Minnesota — In its “buyout hell” era but found space to re-sign Marc-Andre Fleury.

Worst offseasons:

Philadelphia — Missed on Gaudreau and overpaid for DeAngelo. Couldn’t trade James van Riemsdyk. Gave Nic Deslauriers, one of the worst players in the league, four years at $1.75 million per and a no-trade clause. Toughness matters, but yikes.

Vegas — Gave up Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan for nothing.

Montreal, Buffalo, Arizona — Nothing doing, but that’s the idea here, isn’t it?

New York Islanders — If they did anything, they didn’t tell anyone.

Chicago — Empty seats at the United Center this season.

Loose pucks

New Bruins coach Jim Montgomery was the fifth bench boss to make the jump from college to the pros when he left Denver for Dallas.Steven Senne/Associated Press

Jim Montgomery, into his second week on the job for the Bruins, was the fifth coach to make the leap to the NHL from college. David Quinn, rumored to be hired by the Sharks, became the sixth when the Rangers hired him in May 2018, a few weeks after the Stars tapped Montgomery. The other four who matriculated: NCAA legend Ned Harkness, who left Cornell for the Red Wings in 1970, and was not well received; Herb Brooks, who coached in Switzerland for a year before taking the Rangers job in 1981. He coached four teams; “Badger BobJohnson, who is still beloved by Penguins fans; and Dave Hakstol, who has yet to hit his stride in the NHL … The Rangers became Halak’s seventh team (including Buffalo, with which he spent a week in 2015). That’s one behind the goalie record shared by Alex Auld, Sean Burke, Chad Johnson, Curtis McIlhinney, and Ron Tugnutt. Sillinger, who played for 12 teams, has the record packed in his suitcase … With players’ consent, the Premier Hockey Federation revealed the salaries of 18 players, and it seems Buffalo is loading up. The disclosed numbers range from $13,500 a season (Buffalo forward Madi Nichols) to $65,000 (PHF defender of the year Dominique Kremer, also of Buffalo, who signed a two-year deal with a $6,500 signing bonus). The highest salary in the PHF is believed to be that of reigning MVP Mikyla Grant-Mentis, the Merrimack alum who signed with the Beauts for a reported $80,000 … Entering the weekend, the PHF champion Boston Pride had yet to announce their full roster but did confirm reports that All-Star forward Allie Thunstrom was joining the squad. The Boston College grad, a former Olympic hopeful as a speedskater, is one of the fastest players in the league. The Pride also added Harvard product Becca Gilmore, last season’s Ivy League player of the year and Beanpot MVP … Condolences to the family of Bill Callahan, who died last Sunday at 78. Callahan, of Hingham, spent more than 50 years around the Bruins, first working as a locker room attendant and later becoming a longtime penalty box attendant for the visiting team … Fun fact: Tkachuk and Celtics star Jayson Tatum shared classes at Chaminade College Prep in St. Louis. “We always joked around that when we were older we’d be each other’s agent in each other’s sport,” Tkachuk told the Calgary Sun in 2018. “That wouldn’t have been a good decision.”

Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.