Jonathan Huberdeau vents after Panthers win Cup

Things have not gone well for the former Panther in Calgary.

Michael W.

It's been a tale of two massive opposites since the franchise altering trade between the Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames in the summer of 2022, as assistant captain Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar were sent to Alberta in exchange for the rugged forward Matthew Tkachuk.

Both Huberdeau and Weegar were locked up to lengthy contract extensions with their new club, while Tkachuk did the same with Florida. And what has transpired for the trio of players involved in the deal as well as the fortunes of the two franchises could not be different. The Panthers have gone to two straight Stanley Cup Finals, getting the job done last month in a thrilling victory over the Edmonton Oilers, while the Flames have missed the playoffs both years. 

What's even more startling is the Huberdeau's production has dropped off tremendously, resulting in an NHL record being set for the single biggest points drop-off (60 points) from one season to another. He only managed 12 goals and 40 assists in 2023-24, three less points than his first year in Calgary. 

Naturally, watching his former Panthers teammates lift the Stanley Cup after having played for the franchise for a decade was difficult - and the fact that he's right back in a rebuilding situation doesn't help. 

"It’s hard to see the guys lift the Cup," Huberdeau said on Monday. "You say to yourself, 'I was there for 10 years, during more difficult times.' But that’s how you build a team. When you're young, you don't care, you just want to build your career. Now I'm back in that situation, but a little older."

However, he was sure to indicate that he was happy for some of the players that he previously played with. 

“I'm happy for the guys, they worked hard," Huberdeau said. "[Aleksander] Barkov, I've been with him for years, he works so hard. Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett too."

He continued: 

“Tkachuk arrived, and yes, he is good,” Huberdeau said. "But he is well surrounded. They have talent, you see it. Bill Zito was good at getting guys like [defencemen Oliver] Ekman-Larsson and [Dmitry] Kulikov, who were doing less well elsewhere. And a good coach like Paul Maurice, it seems. I thought they were going to win."

As far as his shocking decline in production, Huberdeau acknowledged that the more defensive style of play that the Flames employ didn't do him any favors, but that he's still worth the hefty amount he's getting paid. 

“It’s certain that I’m hard to trade," Hubderdeau said of his deal. "I knew it when I signed the contract, but I didn't know how it was going to happen. I thought I was going to produce points, that it would be good, but the more defensive system of play didn't help. “The contract, I know I’m worth that. Several factors didn't help me, and it's up to me to get through it."

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Source: TSN