The Calgary Flames bid a bitter farewell to Johnny Gaudreau at the start of NHL free agency.
Now they’re parting ways with his linemate.
The Florida Panthers announced Friday night they’ve acquired forward Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional fourth-round pick from Calgary. The Flames receive forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Cole Schwindt, defenceman McKenzie Weegar and the Panthers’ lottery-protected 2025 first-round selection.
Florida also said Tkachuk has agreed to terms on an eight-year deal. According to numerous reports, the contract is for US$76 million.
“Matthew is a tenacious, physical competitor who possesses a tremendously unique skillset,” Panthers GM Bill Zito said in a statement. “He is a consistent elite offensive contributor and has emerged as one of the most complete and dynamic young players in the National Hockey League.
“We are thrilled to be able to add a generational talent to our lineup.”
Tkachuk reportedly informed the Flames after Gaudreau signed a seven-year, US$68.25-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets when the market opened that he also wouldn’t be staying in Calgary long-term.
The club filed for salary arbitration with Tkachuk, a restricted free agent, in order to eliminate the possibility of an offer sheet — which the Flames said was part of the process to come to terms on an extension.
Tkachuk’s hearing had been set for Aug. 11, the last day of proceedings.
Huberdeau had a career-high 115 points last season, including NHL-best 85 assists. The 29-year-old has appeared in 671 career games with Florida, registering 198 goals and 415 assists.
Weegar had 44 points (eight goals, 36 assists) with Florida last year. The 28-year-old has played in 306 career NHL games, all with the Panthers, and recorded 121 points (27 goals, 94 assists).
“On behalf of the entire Florida Panthers organization, we would like to thank Jonathan and MacKenzie for their immense contributions to the Florida Panthers, both on and off the ice, during their tenures in South Florida,” said Zito. “They have both blossomed into exceptional athletes and people.
“Their contributions as players and people made an indelible mark on our franchise and we wish them both continued success in their future.”
And while Calgary fans will be upset to lose two-thirds of their team’s top line in short order, the Flames got something for 24-year-old Tkachuk after losing Gaudreau, 28, for nothing.
The pair combined to score 82 goals and 219 points on the flanks of the Flames’ top line with Elias Lindholm.
Tkachuk set career-highs for goals (40), assists (62) and points.
The Arizona-born, St. Louis-raised forward registered 152 goals and 382 points in 431 regular-season games with Calgary. Selected sixth overall at the 2016 NHL draft, Tkachuk added seven goals and eight assists in 27 post-season appearances.
The Flames finished first in the Pacific Division last season before falling to the Edmonton Oilers in the second round of the playoffs — the first post-season Battle of Alberta since 1991.
Calgary’s veteran roster, which includes goaltender and Vezina Trophy finalist Jacob Markstrom, will now look to regroup and push ahead minus its two best offensive threats.