Can the Calgary Flames contend for the Stanley Cup after the losses of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk?
After Johnny Gaudreau signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, I decided that it would be a good idea to write a piece re-assessing how the 2022 Pacific Division Champion Calgary Flames should move forward without their franchise winger.
The gist was going to be: "Even without Gaudreau, this is a deceptively strong hockey team that has the cap space to add more talent to cushion the blow of losing him in the short term."
Then it came out that Matthew Tkachuk had informed Flames general manager Brad Treliving that he was unwilling to sign a long-term extension, and the Flames had decided to explore trade options with him. So things got put on the back-burner until the anticipated "Tkachuk for [Young Promising Player] + [Good Prospect] + 1st round pick" trade took place.
The anticipated tone of the article shifted to "The Flames have a strong asset base and can jump-start a rebuild by moving some of their other older players."
Then all of a sudden, that changed dramatically. Instead of moving Tkachuk to a team like the St. Louis Blues for Jordan Kyrou or the New Jersey Devils for Alexander Holtz, they made quite possibly the biggest blockbuster trade in my lifetime. Sure, there's a first-round pick and a prospect in there, but replace the young up-and-comer with a 29-year-old star winger in Jonathan Huberdeau and a 28-year-old top pair defenceman in MacKenzie Weegar and what you get is a fundamentally different move than anybody expected.
It's the wild west in Cowtown. What does the Flames' tumultuous summer mean for the future of the franchise?
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