CALGARY — Admit it Flames fans, you gasped.
You saw the haul Brad Treliving got in exchange for Matthew Tkachuk late Friday and you had to catch your breath.
What a refreshing twist to end a nightmarish fortnight in which everyone in Calgary felt like they’d been punched in the gut.
Despite being limited to dealing with just a few teams, Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving pulled a sizable rabbit out of his hat to give his organization and its fan base the shot in the arm they needed.
The shot they deserved.
Treliving bounced back from a spell of unprecedented loss to land four significant assets for Tkachuk in a blockbuster that included one of only seven men who had more points than the serial mouthguard chewer.
A bona fide superstar, Jonathan Huberdeau.
Fresh off tying Johnny Gaudreau for second in league scoring with 115 points, the man who just set a record for the most assists in an NHL season by a left winger (85) will now patrol the left side of Calgary’s top line.
Yes, a playmaker every bit as good as Gaudreau.
Who could have fathomed?
MacKenzie Weegar is an established top-four blueliner, who will add size (6-foot, 200 pounds) and skill (44 points last year) to the right side of an already stingy and proven back end.
His transitional game is one of his biggest strengths, helping him to a plus-40 rating last year.
Rest assured, there will be no rebuild in Calgary.
Not yet, anyway.
Sure, both are unrestricted free agents next summer.
But both Canadian products will have a chance to try Calgary and the organization on for size before anyone has to make any rash decisions on their future.
Huge assets, no matter what you do with them.
Treliving rounded the deal out with a lottery-protected first-round pick from the Panthers in 2025, and former third-round pick Cole Schwindt, 21, a centre who had 19 goals and 40 points in his first full season in the AHL.
Tkachuk and a conditional fourth head to Sunrise, Fla. where one of the NHL’s most unique talents immediately signed an eight-year extension for $76 million ($9.5 million AAV).
Brother Brady Tkachuk immediately tweeted an emoji of a money bag.
Matthew got exactly what he wanted out of all this.
None of this appeared to be what Flames fans wanted when word got out Tkachuk wouldn’t sign an extension in Calgary.
But a return with this much star power may be the only thing that can salvage an otherwise disastrous off-season.
Dare some Flames fans say, they’re suddenly looking forward to training camp?
They’re curious, at the very least.
After years of starring alongside Selke Trophy winner Aleksander Barkov, Huberdeau will fit in just fine on a defensive-minded team, alongside Selke finalist Elias Lindholm.
At 6-foot-1, 202 pounds the two-time 30-goal scorer brings the size Darryl Sutter craves, and the offensive skill the team will desperately need.
His defensive play could use some work, but so did Johnny Hockey’s before Sutter got ahold of him.
As someone who will be demanding Tkachuk/Gaudreau-type money next summer, the Flames will certainly try to extend the Quebec native’s stay past this season, as he’s 29 years old.
If unable to come up with a deal by the trade deadline, the team will have a big decision to make on a player whose cap hit of $5.9 million will make him a huge target if offered up for trade.
Huberdeau’s modified no-trade clause isn’t prohibitive at all, as he can submit a list of only eight teams he can’t be traded to.
Flames fans don’t want to worry about that just yet.
Weegar is a late bloomer who is also due for a significant raise from a contract that pays him $3.25 million, but comes with no trade restrictions.
The return on Tkachuk fits into what the Flames were initially looking for, but comes with the bonus of unexpected star power that instantly did wonders to lift spirits and excitement of a fan base that’s been reeling since Gaudreau’s 11th-hour defection.
Given how little leverage he had, no one could have guessed Treliving would walk away the winner of any trade involving a stud 24-year-old like Tkachuk.
No one expected anything to replace the void left by two 100-point superstars, but the thrill of acquiring Huberdeau and Weegar can only be surpassed by the possibility of re-upping either star in due time.
Suddenly there’s hope – something Flames fans were running desperately short of.