The first branch from the Matthew Tkachuk trade tree has taken root.
The Calgary Flames sent the conditional 2025 first-round pick they received from the Florida Panthers to the Montreal Canadiens in order to dump the contract of Sean Monahan and create the cap room necessary to sign Nazem Kadri.
They received ‘future considerations’ in return.
Monahan had one year left on his $6.3 million deal while Kadri inked a seven-year deal worth $7 million per season on Thursday.
On the surface, the deal was to bring in Kadri, but it does raise questions about other pieces of the Tkachuk deal moving forward.
And it involves multiple branches of the tree.
Oddly enough, it starts with the first-round pick included in this deal.
The conditions placed on the 2025 first-round pick Florida sent to Calgary got a whole lot more complicated in the Monahan deal.
Via conditions made from the trade, Montreal has multiple options to choose from depending on the performance of both the Panthers and the Flames.
First off, if Calgary’s 2024 first-round pick is between picks 20 and 32, Montreal has the option to take that pick and the draft pick that Florida gave up in the Tkachuk trade would remain in Calgary’s possession.
If the Canadiens do not take that option, things get complicated.
If Florida’s pick ends up in the top 10, Montreal will receive Calgary’s 2025 first — in the event that Calgary’s pick is not also in the top 10.
In the event that neither pick is in the top 10, Montreal receives the earliest of the two. If both are in the top 10, Montreal receives a 2025 third-round pick and the better of Florida and Calgary’s 2026 first-round picks.
All of that is a mouthful to say that there are no guarantees that it will, indeed, be Florida’s first-round pick heading to Montreal.
One branch that will not be touched for a while is Jonathan Huberdeau, who inked an eight-year deal with Calgary earlier this month.
MacKenzie Weegar could be a point of focus.
With Kadri coming in at a $7 million cap hit, re-signing Weegar next offseason may become a tougher task for the Flames.
Per CapFriendly, they will have $10 million in cap space with Milan Lucic’s $5.25 million hit coming off the books giving them some room to work with in the short term.
The long term is where things get tricky, however.
Although Weegar is the only big-name free agent coming off of Calgary’s books next season, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Noah Hanifin, Oliver Kylington, Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli headline a 2024 free-agent class that features eight unrestricted free agents.
Dillon Dube and Jakob Pelletier are also restricted free agents that summer.
Kadri’s contract forces Calgary’s hand in making a decision down the line and if Weegar wants upward of $7-8 million on an eight-year deal, they may need to sacrifice some pieces of their core to keep him around.
Calgary is already paying Huberdeau, 29, and Kadri, 28, big money long-term, so giving Weegar another big contract at the age of 29 next offseason may cripple the Flames near the end of their contracts.
By the end of their deals, Huberdeau will be 38, Kadri will be 38, and Weegar would be somewhere close to that age depending on if Calgary gives him eight years, seven years or a shorter-term contract.
Paying for those age 36 to 38 seasons could prove to be costly depending on the regression curve of the player.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of things that may happen with this trade and it could branch out even further.
Trades like this are hard to judge at first because both teams got quality talent and filled the specific need they were seeking to fill.
Calgary got multiple pieces to fill the departures of Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau — including an MVP candidate from last season in Huberdeau — and Florida got a younger, more versatile star who extends their window of contention.
With these moves, it does bring more clarity into what to look for to determine a winner or loser.
Does it truly matter if the first-round pick sent to Montreal ends up being Florida’s?
No matter which pick it was, Florida’s first-round draft choice being there allowed Calgary to have the flexibility to make the Monahan trade happen and secure the cap space needed to sign Kadri.
The real move to look at would be whether or not the addition of Kadri hampers the ability to re-sign Weegar and how it affects Calgary in the long term.
If it does hurt them long-term and Florida contends for a while — and maybe even wins a Cup — the Panthers could end up being the victors of the trade.
But, if Kadri keeps up his form from the 2021-22 season and the Flames win the Stanley Cup, nothing that happens after would matter.
When everything is all said and done, this was a good hockey trade made by two good hockey teams, so it will take a lot more than just looking at what it was on the surface level to determine who ‘won’ the trade.
When you add new branches to the trade, however, it continues to become more complicated.
Let’s just let the teams play some games and see where it goes from here.