Like most Calgary Flames players, MacKenzie Weegar had a rough season.
It took most of the year for the 29-year-old to get comfortable with the massive change following the blockbuster trade that sent Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers and brought Weegar and Jonathan Huberdeau to the Flames.
Weegar finished with 31 points in 81 games — four goals and 13 points off the career highs he set the previous year with the Cats.
That mild disappointment was compounded by the fact the Flames missed the playoffs after winning the Pacific Division banner the year before. So when the opportunity came to play for Team Canada at the IIHF World Hockey Championships this month, Weegar pounced. So did Calgary Flames teammates Tyler Toffoli and Milan Lucic — with all wearing letters on their jerseys overseas.
And after Weegar’s incredible performance in the tournament, netting three goals and 11 points in 10 games on the way to a gold medal, don’t be surprised to see a more confident version of Weegar in Calgary next season.
Maybe even wearing a letter.
Weegar had the kind of international experience most dream of. In addition to the gold, he was named the world championship’s best defenceman and the lone representative for Canada on the all-star squad.
His defensive partner overseas, Minnesota Wild youngster Jacob Middleton, was in awe.
“What a stud,” Middleton told reporter Aaron Vickers for the Flames website. “I don’t have to do anything. I’m a decoy as his partner. It’s nice.
“He’s a hell of a player and he deserves all of the success he’s gotten.”
Lucic, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is unlikely to return to the Flames, said he’s never seen Weegar play at such a high level.
“It was great to see,” Lucic said. “I hope it carries over for him next year into Calgary because he’s such a big part of it.”
He’ll be a huge part of the Flames going forward, too. His big contract extension kicks in this season, bumping him from $3.25M to $6.25M for the next eight years. Expectations will be high — especially after his recent performance.