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Huberdeau and Weegar open to staying in Calgary longterm


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Jonathan Huberdeau is open to signing a long-term contract with the Calgary Flames.

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So is MacKenzie Weegar.

That was the No. 1 takeaway from the introductory Zoom press conference of the two newest additions to the Flames.

Both players have one year left on their contracts and will become unrestricted free-agents next summer. Neither is ruling out an extension in Calgary.

That’s good news, obviously, even if it’s hard to imagine them saying anything else.

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“I’m open,” Huberdeau said. “We’ve never really talked about that, but I’m open to staying in Calgary for a long time. We’ve only been there 48 hours and we haven’t got to go to Calgary and see everything, but I’m open to it and I’ll kind of leave that to the GM and the agent. They already started talking about it.

“We’ll see what’s going to happen. I’m open, for sure.”

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Weegar said much the same thing.

“I’m open to signing a long-term deal,” Weegar said. “It’s been quick and it’s been short so far, but there’s no reason not to be open about it. I’m looking forward to my agent talking to (Flames GM Brad Treliving) and seeing what’s going on. I’m very open to it.”

It’s completely understandable if Flames fans are a little wary, despite Weegar and Huberdeau’s attempts to re-assure everybody that signing in Calgary is something they’ll seriously consider.

We won’t re-print the quotes here, but it was only a couple months ago that Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk were insisting they loved Calgary and were open to staying longterm. Then, July hit and both informed the Flames they weren’t interested in committing to Calgary.

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Gaudreau signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets in free-agency, while Tkachuk helped the Flames orchestrate at trade that sent him to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Huberdeau, Weegar, young centre Cole Schmidt and a 2025 first-round draft pick.

So there’s a difference between saying you’re open to signing longterm and actually doing it. Nobody can fault Flames fans if they temper their enthusiasm until both players actually commit their futures to the organization.

But what needs to happen for each to sign? There’s not one, simple answer to that question.

“It’s tough to answer that question right now because Friday night, you think you’re still in Florida and now we’re talking Monday with a new team and you don’t know if you’re going to sign an extension and stuff like that,” Huberdeau said. “I’ve still got one year left on my contract. I’m open to staying with the Flames, but at the end of the day it’s not my decision. It’s with the GM and my agent to work this out.

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“It’s something I’m open about … They’re the one that traded for me. That means they want me. Obviously, the situation was different with Tkachuk wanting to leave Calgary (but) they still went out and got us. You want to play for a team that wants you, that’s all I want.”

Huberdeau has one year remaining on his deal at a US$5.9-million cap hit, while Weegar will be making $3.25 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free-agent. There’s great value in both deals for the Flames, but for some, the success of the Tkachuk trade will no doubt hinge on whether the team can get one or both of their new players to stay in Calgary and build for the next half-decade and beyond.

They have a year to sell Weegar and Huberdeau on the city and the Flames organization’s vision.

“If you’re talking hypothetically and checking some of the boxes, it’s ‘Are we a winning team? How is the city? How are the teammates? How are my coaches?’ I think those are a lot of boxes you check to sign a long-term deal with a team I’m open to it,” Weegar said. “I’ve heard great things about all those things I just said. I guess it’s just coming down and getting down there and experiencing it myself, and Brad and my agent as well just talking, negotiation talks, seeing if it works for both sides. Those are some of the things.”

daustin@postmedia.com

www.twitter.com/DannyAustin_9

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