What was looking to be one of the worst off-seasons in franchise history turned out to be anything but for the Calgary Flames.
First, after reportedly throwing everything including the kitchen sink at Johnny Gaudreau to keep him in Calgary, the star, home-grown winger opted to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets of all places for less money and term than he would've gotten with the Flames.
That gut punch was followed by another blow to the heart after Matthew Tkachuk — who has also vaulted into the upper echelon of elite NHL wingers over the past season or so — informed the Flames he wouldn't be signing with the team long-term, while providing a short trade list to GM Brad Treliving and Co.
However, with essentially zero leverage in hand, the Flames general manager was able to pull a rabbit out of his hat by acquiring not one, not two, not three, but four valuable assets — Hart Trophy contender Jonathan Huberdeau, top-pairing blueliner MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and a first-round pick in 2025 from the Panthers — for a player the whole world knew wanted out.
It was an extremely tidy piece of business for Treliving, one made even tidier after the team inked Huberdeau to an eight-year extension on Thursday worth $10.5 million per season. How that deal may look in a few years aside, locking up the most important piece received via the biggest trade in quite some time was certainly a win for Calgary, especially coming on the heels of two star, franchise players not wanting to be part of the Flames' future.
The Panthers, meanwhile, immediately signed their prized acquisition to a similar eight-year deal, worth $76 million.
In Tkachuk, the Panthers get (and the Flames lose) a rare breed of player in today's NHL, a unicorn if you will. He's a goal- and point-scoring machine, posting career highs in tallies (42) and points (104) last season as he enters what should be the prime of his career at just 24 years old.
The No. 6 overall pick in 2016 is also one of the grittier, more physical players in the game with a tough, mean streak to him, boasts solid puck possession and entry/exit numbers, and is strong in the defensive zone. Package that with the potential to hit 35 goals and 90 points every season and you have one of the most complete, sought-after players in the league.
Tkachuk is a better two-way player than Huberdeau, is five years younger, and will make a million less per season. What most would perceive as a slight upgrade, however, did not come cheap, and the other assets Florida had to send Calgary's way can't be overlooked, especially Weegar.
The 28-year-old blueliner is blossoming a little late but has come into his own the past couple of seasons, posting 36 and 48 points, respectively, while logging big minutes on the team's first and second pairings and emerging as one of the more talented blueliners in the league. The Flames gained a top D-man while the Panthers lost a monumental part of their core without replacing him.
Being able to pull Weegar along with Huberdeau, who posted a whopping 85 assists and 115 points last season, a prospect and a first-rounder from Florida certainly makes it seem like Calgary won this wild deal. On the other hand, Tkachuk may be the best overall player involved in this trade, is younger, boasts a lower AAV, and fits perfectly into Florida's forward group, leaving a good enough case to be made that Florida chalked up the dub here.
Have your say and join the conversation:
With all of the above factors in mind, who do you think won this trade as of now?
No fence-sitting allowed.
More from Yahoo Sports