The Calgary Flames have defined the 2022 NHL offseason.
Fresh off a 111-point season, the club's competitive window appeared to slam shut when Johnny Gaudreau opted to hit the open market and Matthew Tkachuk asked for a trade. Instead of embarking on a full-scale rebuild, general manager Brad Treliving pushed his chips to the middle of the table and pulled off one of the most impressive retools of the salary-cap era.
Treliving recouped a bigger haul for Tkachuk than anyone expected, landing a four-piece package from the Florida Panthers headlined by stars Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar. Both were scheduled for unrestricted free agency next summer, but Huberdeau then inked an eight-year extension, and Weegar said he's open to re-upping as well.
As if the biggest trade in recent NHL history wasn't enough, Treliving emphasized his desire for Calgary to remain a Cup contender by landing prized free agent Nazem Kadri on a seven-year deal Thursday.
It's been a chaotic few months for Flames fans since the team's disappointing showing in the postseason Battle of Alberta. But now that the dust has settled - we think - it's time to analyze: Is Calgary better than it was last season?
Gaudreau was Calgary's best player for much of his tenure and had his most dominant NHL campaign in 2021-22 with a team-leading 115 points. His playmaking on the top line and the first power-play unit was the catalyst for much of the Flames' offense last season. Losing a fan favorite in the prime of his career is a bitter pill to swallow.
While Gaudreau was the face of the franchise, Tkachuk was the heart and soul. The 24-year-old also broke the 100-point barrier last season, and Flames fans admired his physical edge and hard-nosed brand of hockey. Tkachuk is a unicorn - his blend of offensive skills and defensive responsibility is incredibly difficult to find, and any team would love to have him.