Fantasy spin: Tkachuk-Huberdeau trade on Panthers, Flames

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NHL.com has the fantasy hockey impact of the trade that sent elite wing Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers from the Calgary Flames for elite wing Jonathan Huberdeau and valuable defenseman MacKenzie Weegar. For more coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the “NHL Fantasy on Ice” podcast.

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The Florida Panthers acquired elite wing Matthew Tkachuk from the Calgary Flames and signed him to an eight-year contract; the Flames acquired elite wing Jonathan Huberdeau and valuable defenseman MacKenzie Weegar in return. The trade involves two of the NHL’s top 10 point producers from last season in Huberdeau (115; T-2nd) and Tkachuk (104; eighth) and significantly alters the fantasy landscape.

Huberdeau is ranked slightly ahead of Tkachuk in fantasy for this season, but each wing should still be considered a top 20 overall player with his change of scenery. Tkachuk moves to a stronger offensive team in Florida and will likely play on the top line with elite center Aleksander Barkov, who’s now the Panthers’ most valuable fantasy forward after Huberdeau’s departure and Barkov having the best points-per-game average (1.31; T-10th in NHL) of his career last season.

After reaching new fantasy heights on Florida’s second line (away from Barkov) over the past two seasons, Huberdeau still has 100-point potential on Calgary’s top line with center Elias Lindholm, who was one of 13 players in the NHL with at least 40 goals (42) and 40 assists last season. Lindholm was also second in the NHL in plus/minus (plus-61) behind former linemate Johnny Gaudreau (plus-64), who signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets in free agency, and ahead of Tkachuk (plus-57; third).

Tkachuk was tied for ninth in goals (42), third in plus/minus (plus-57) and fifth in even-strength points (75) last season with rare coverage of power-play points (29; T-21st), shots on goal (253; T-22nd) and hits (93). He remains a top 10-15 overall player with the Panthers, who averaged the most goals per game (4.11) in the NHL last season, and provides them with a physical dimension to boost their Stanley Cup futures appeal.

The acquisition of Huberdeau, who had an NHL career high in points last season and was the League leader in assists (85), offsets Calgary’s loss of Gaudreau from earlier this offseason. While Calgary has now lost two key pieces of its top line and first power play from last season in Gaudreau and Tkachuk, Huberdeau was tied for third in the NHL in power play points (38) last season and has more points (415 in 368 games since 2017-18) than Gaudreau (405 in 370) over the past five seasons combined.

Although this trade comes with long-term risk for Calgary with Huberdeau and Weegar being potential 2023 unrestricted free agents, the Flames have renewed short-term Stanley Cup futures appeal in the Pacific Division with arguably a more-balanced roster than the other top contenders in the Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings.

Weegar, who thrived on the top pair with Aaron Ekblad over the past two seasons but was not usually playing on the Panthers’ first power play, gains some fantasy value from this trade. He should now be considered Calgary’s top fantasy defenseman option over Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin and a top 15-20 option at the position with likely exposure to Huberdeau, Lindholm and wing Tyler Toffoli on the first power play. Ekblad remains a top 10 fantasy defenseman in Florida’s still-potent offense but loses some stock from Huberdeau and Weegar being traded to Calgary

Over the past two seasons combined, Weegar ranked third in the NHL in plus/minus (plus-69) and tied for fifth among defensemen in even-strength points (70). Weegar was also tied for 11th among defensemen in shots on goal (203) last season and averaged more than two hits per game (179 in 80 games), adding to his fantasy prowess in standard leagues.

NHL.com’s Pete Jensen and Anna Dua contributed to this analysis.