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How the Flames Can Convince Huberdeau to Sign



The Calgary Flames courtship of Jonathan Huberdeau has officially begun.

And Flames GM Brad Treliving is hoping it’s not just a rebound relationship.

Huberdeau’s hurt after being traded away by the only NHL team he’s ever known was very real. There was legitimate shock following the late-night news he was part of a package his Florida Panthers coughed up for Calgary Flames cornerstone Matthew Tkachuk. It took a few days before he was ready to talk about it. Another week before he decided on a new number, with his No. 11 already in the hands of respected veteran Mikael Backlund.

But Huberdeau is looking forward — and, on Monday, Treliving time out of a busy long weekend to fly to Montreal to have dinner with a player he hopes to have as part of the Calgary Flames family for a very long time.

The dinner, tweeted first by Elliotte Friedman and then Huberdeau’s agent, Allan Walsh, was an effort to get to know Huberdeau better.

Everyone knows what Huberdeau does on the ice.

Huberdeau an elite veteran talent

The elite left-winger scored 115 points last season to tie former Flame Johnny Gaudreau for second in NHL scoring. He left the Panthers as the franchise’s all-time leader in points and games played. Huberdeau is exactly what the Calgary Flames need after losing their most iconic players in a span of two weeks when Gaudreau and Tkachuk decided not to sign long-term deals with the team that drafted and developed them.

But the question is whether Huberdeau believes Calgary offers what he needs after carving out his own career in what’s been home away from home his entire life.

Enter Treliving.

“Jonathan Huberdeau had a very nice dinner tonight in Montreal with Calgary GM Brad Treliving,” Walsh tweeted Monday. “Kudos to Brad for coming out to Montreal to meet with Jonathan so they could spend some time together, getting to know each other.”

As was the case with Tkachuk and Gaudreau, money isn’t likely to be an issue of contention for any long-term pact between Huberdeau and the Calgary Flames.

The 29-year-old Quebecois was reportedly seeking an extension north of $9 million over maximum term before the trade. Treliving had offered Gaudreau a reported $10.5 million AAV for eight years before the winger bolted for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Surely that range would satisfy a star player on the brink of turning 30 who’s coming off a career year.

Money shouldn’t be biggest issue in negotiations

For Huberdeau, the challenge will be persuading him that the Flames are the right team and Calgary’s the right city. Before other teams get to do the same next summer.

To convince him the Flames are the right team starts with the plan to build around him. Introduce him to the core of talented up-and-comers like Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, and the freshly signed Oliver Kylington and Andrew Mangiapane. Remind him you have a Vezina contender in goal with Jacob Markstrom. A Selke candidate in Elias Lindholm. And veteran goal-scorers and Stanley Cup winners in Tyler Toffoli and Blake Coleman.

Get him excited about the introduction of prospects like Jakob Pelletier, Matthew Coronato, Matthew Phillips and Dustin Wolf.

Show him the injection of salary cap space you will have next season when Sean Monahan and Milan Lucic are off the books – if not a plan to get that relief even sooner to add additional arsenal.

Make Huberdeau feel his importance to the Calgary Flames.

He mentioned in his opening media availability that playing for a team that wants him is important to him. Making the trade without a chance to talk to him first about an extension is a heck of a start. Treliving wanted him and fellow trade piece MacKenzie Weegar even if only for one season.

The Flames haven’t had a captain since the departure of Mark Giordano. A 100-point player committed to bringing a Cup to Calgary seems like a nice fit.

There’s a lot of work to do. All relationships take effort.

If this meet-and-greet dinner was their first date, maybe a whirlwind romance lead to a long-term commitment.