Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving is playing the hand he's been dealt.
Treliving spoke with media on Saturday, a day after the Flames sent star forward Matthew Tkachuk and a conditional fourth-round pick to the Florida Panthers in a trade. The deal comes nine days after Johnny Gaudreau left Calgary as a free agent, signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Gaudreau led Calgary with 115 points last season and Tkachuk was second with 104.
"You can crawl over to the corner in the fetal position and suck your thumb or you can deal with it," said Treliving. "And what we've tried to do is deal with it. That's what we do.
"We're not the first team to deal with issues. We're not the last one to deal with issues. We're going to deal with it."
Calgary got forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Cole Schwindt, defenceman MacKenzie Weegar and the Panthers' lottery-protected 2025 first-round selection in return for Tkachuk.
Treliving said he was forced to make the swap when Tkachuk's agent informed him last weekend that the 24-year-old winger would not agree to a long-term deal with the Flames. As part of that process, Calgary worked with Tkachuk's agent to file for salary arbitration on Monday in order to eliminate the possibility of another team extending an offer sheet to the restricted free agent.
Florida said on Friday that Tkachuk agreed to an eight-year deal after the trade was completed. According to numerous reports, the contract is for US$76 million.
Blocking the possibility of an offer sheet was a necessary step for Calgary to get a substantial return on Tkachuk in a trade, according to Treliving.
"We feel that this is, by a longshot, the very, very best deal that was available to us," said Treliving, who called it a challenging position to be in.
Huberdeau will certainly carry his weight on offence. He had a career-high 115 points last season, including NHL-best 85 assists. The 29-year-old has appeared in 671 career games with Florida, registering 198 goals and 415 assists.
Weegar had 44 points (eight goals, 36 assists) with Florida last year. The 28-year-old has played in 306 career NHL games, all with the Panthers, and recorded 121 points (27 goals, 94 assists). Schwindt appeared in three games for the Panthers last season. The 21-year-old had 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 72 games for the AHL's Charlotte Checkers.
"Dealing a 24-year-old player like Matthew, we didn't choose this path, but we felt that at the end of the day, we were able to deal with it the best possible way, given the circumstances," said Treliving.
Fans and some media speculated that the departure of two young top-line talents like Tkachuk and Gaudreau were a reflection on the city of Calgary itself. Before Treliving took questions from reporters on Saturday he dismissed that speculation about the fitness of Calgary as a market.
"Quite frankly, it pisses me off," said Treliving. "This is a wonderful community. I think anybody that lives here is privileged to live in a wonderful community.
"We've got a team that is a top team in the league, a team that's competing every year to be a Stanley Cup champion and we're going to continue to do that."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2022.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press