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easiest job for Florida Panthers This summer the status quo would have to be maintained, especially after posting the best NHL record ever.
The Panthers went a different path.
Matthew Tkachuk was introduced as the team’s newest player on Monday, three days after the Panthers Calgary completed a trade who sent Jonathan Huberdeau, Mackenzie Weiger, Prospect Cole Schwindt and a conditional first-round draft pick to the Flames.
It was the latest big move for Florida, which earlier this summer hired Paul Maurice for Andrew Brunet — finals coach of the year as interim coach for the Panthers this past season — and is now the franchise’s all-time head. They parted ways with a leading scorer at Huberdeau and a defender at Weiger who led the team in skater minutes in the past two seasons.
“The changes we’ve made are in the best interest of the team and the organization,” said Panthers general manager Bill Zito. “And all for different reasons in each instance. In each instance, to be honest, we’ve gotten someone who is exceptional.”
The Panthers believe the extraordinary is the right word for the 24-year-old Takachuk, who is coming off his first 100-point season. The organization will never speak of anything other than an exaggeration regarding Huberdew—Jito made sure to commend both him and Weiger in his opening remarks on Monday—but Takachuk brings a different style, one that Florida seems to lack. Might be possible.
“I bring a certain swagger,” Takachuk said.
Florida topped their list of favorite destinations when deciding not to sign a long-term extension with Calgary. The Panthers were a top pick for a number of reasons: the youth corps, the chance to play with Florida captain Alexander Barkov (“the top-two player in the NHL, and it’s a fact,” and even wearing flips). Chance- Flop to work most days.
Barkov is on contract for eight years. It’s Tokachuk.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that apparently some of Matthew’s qualities are areas of the game that we can really use collectively in our group,” Zito said. “So, when it came out as a reality, quickly, we had to decide that this was something that had to be pursued.”
Tkachuk scored a career-best 42 goals, 62 assists and 104 points for Calgary. Huberdeau had a career-best tie for Florida with 30 goals, as well as set points with 85 assists and 115 points – both of which are franchise records for the Panthers.
The trade was agreed in principle on Friday afternoon and was completed late Friday night, leading to some surprising phone calls.
“It was a big blow to me,” Huberdeau said Monday when he and Weiger were torched by flames. “It’s part of life. Now we have to move on.”
Weiger had similar sentiments: “I get my share of the hockey business and that part of it.”
Jito said the Panthers clearly understand that they have to give – a lot, in this case – to get something. Takachuk is five years younger than Huberdew, which made some sense from planning where the franchise would be down the line.
And he immediately started building fans in Florida. With Calgary, Takachuk embarked on an All-Alberta rivalry with Edmonton. Now with the Panthers, he becomes rival with tampa bay lightningThe team that knocked Florida out of the second round.
“I hate Edmonton,” Takachuk said. “But I hate Tampa more now.”