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Screen Shots: Flames/Panthers Trade Reaction and Carolina's Hot Off-Season

Adam Proteau breaks down the crazy trade that saw two major stars moved on Friday evening and discusses an underrated move by the Carolina Hurricanes this summer.
Jonathan Huberdeau

Welcome back to Screen Shots, a regular feature on THN.com where we break down a handful of hockey topics and analyze them in smaller bites. Let’s get right down to it:

– The NHL world was shaken late Friday when the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers completed a blockbuster trade that sent star winger Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2025 entry draft to South Florida in exchange for star winger Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, prospect forward Cole Schwindt, and a conditional first-round pick in 2025. Many had been expecting the Flames to trade the 24-year-old Tkachuk after star and former linemate Johnny Gaudreau left Calgary as an unrestricted free agent to sign with Columbus, but there were numerous skeptics that Flames GM Brad Treliving would be able to bring back a quality return for Tkachuk once it became clear he was unwilling to sign a long-term contract extension.

However, to his credit, Treliving acquired a slew of assets for Tkachuk, headlined by the 29-year-old Huberdeau, who had a career season in assists (85) and points (115) last season while also finishing fifth in voting for the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player. Needless to say, it’s rare indeed that a sniper and playmaker like Huberdeau is dealt in his prime, but the opportunity to land a younger player with more snarl to his game was too tempting for Panthers GM Bill Zito to ignore, and Florida is in win-now mode, so it wasn’t a shock to see Tkachuk immediately signed to an eight-year, $76-million contract extension. The Panthers were going to be a well-above-average group before this trade, but with Tkachuk on board, Florida will be seen as a Stanley Cup frontrunner.

Calgary also has a mandate to win immediately, and although Huberdeau and Weegar both are scheduled to be UFAs in the summer of 2023, Treliving now has $9.3 million in salary cap space to (a) improve the roster mid-season; and (b) persuade Huberdeau and Weegar to sign long-term contract extensions. The Flames are a well-coached bunch that should challenge for top spot in the Pacific Division in 2022-23, and Huberdeau now must face the pressures of playing in a hockey-mad market. But his talent is large enough to make him up to the task. All in all, this trade changes the foundation of both teams, and Zito and Treliving both can go to their fan bases with high expectations for the coming year.

– Meanwhile, another team that can rightly claim to have the Cup in its sights, the Carolina Hurricanes, continued making roster moves recently that should position them very well for a deep playoff run. Cap 'issues meant they were unable to retain the services of talented winger Nino Niederreiter, who signed with the Nashville Predators this past week, but ‘Canes GM Don Waddell made a quiet-but-important signing when he agreed to terms on a one-year, $1.5-million deal with veteran winger Ondrej Kase.

The 26-year-old continued to have health issues last season as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but still managed to produce 14 goals and 27 points in 50 games. Kase will shore up Carolina’s bottom-six group of forwards, and has the ability to play further up in the lineup. He joins fellow veterans Max Pacioretty and Brent Burns as notable off-season upgrades for the Hurricanes, and team owner Tom Dundon has to be pleased with the direction the franchise is in right now. Waddell still has more than $4 million in cap space, and though much of that will likely be spent on RFA forward Martin Necas, Waddell has proven to be fearless when it comes to making in-season changes to his lineup. The Canes once again will vie for top spot in the competitive Metropolitan Division, and set their bar very high in the post-season. 

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