Jonathan Huberdeau & Sam Reinhart on the ice at FLA Live Arena, Sunrise, FL – Courtesy: Jonathan Huberdeau Instagram @jonnyhuby11
Jonathan Huberdeau and Matthew Tkachuk had the best years of their careers this past season.
And now, the news has come out that they are changing places in an NHL blockbuster trade.
On Friday night, Tkachuk was traded to the Florida Panthers while Huberdeau is going to the Calgary Flames for the power forward. The Panthers also decided to send defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt, and a lottery-protected first-round pick in the 2025 NHL draft.
“Matthew is a tenacious, physical competitor who possesses a tremendously unique skillset,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said. “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.”
As part of the stunning move, Tkachuk is now under contract with the Panthers through the 2029-30 season. Speaking to The Associated Press under anonymity because the team had not publicly announced it yet, a person familiar with the terms said that it would be worth $76 million over the eight years. Earlier last week, Tkachuk made the decision to not accept a long-term deal to stay in Calgary, which immediately led to trade talks and no shortage of courters throughout the NHL wanting to land him as part of their teams.
The Panthers, a team that was honored with the Presidents’ Trophy this past season for having the NHL’s best regular-season record, apparently fought for him more than most.
They dropped a package headlined by Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida’s career leader in points, games, and assists, to make the deal happen. The surprising decision also breaks up one of the best duos in hockey, after Aleksander Barkov and Huberdeau formed an unstoppable 1-2 punch in recent years.
However, it never translated into the type of playoff success the Florida Panthers are desperate for. The Panthers’ recent playoff series win was the first since 1996, however, Tampa Bay swept the Panthers in the second round with the Cats only scoring three goals in those four games.
“We would like to thank Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar for their immense contributions to the Florida Panthers, both on and off the ice, during their tenures in South Florida,” Zito said. “They have both blossomed into exceptional athletes and people. Their contributions as players and people made an indelible mark on our franchise.”
Tkachuk had career bests of 104 points, 42 goals, and 62 assists this past season for Calgary. With 30 goals for Florida, Huberdeau tied his previous career high. He also set records with 85 assists and 115 points, both of which were Panthers franchise records.
Due to the trade, Calgary is now without its top two scorers from the previous campaign. Johnny Gaudreau, who led the Flames with 115 points, agreed to a seven-year contract with Columbus as a free agent last week.
The Panthers had a tough decision to make–commit to Huberdeau, who was extension-eligible this summer, with a long-term, big-money deal, or look to make a change in their trajectory.
Age was another factor that went into deciding who would get the eight-year commitment; Huberdeau is 29, while Tkachuk is 24. However, age is one of the few things that differentiate the two on paper: Both are left wings, about 6-foot-two and 200 pounds, and both have averaged approximately nine points for every ten games throughout their NHL careers. Back in 2011, Huberdeau was the No. 3 pick, while Tkachuk was the No. 6 pick in the 2016 draft.
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Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.