The Calgary Flames had one of the most eventful offseasons in the NHL.
In nine days in July, the Flames lost two star wingers to a combined tally of 82 goals and 219 points last season.
Johnny Gaudreau shocked the league when he signed a seven-year, $68.25 million deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Matthew Tkachuk quickly followed his MVP linemate out of town. After Tkachuk told the Flames he wouldn’t re-sign, they traded him to the Florida Panthers in the midsummer blockbuster.
Flames general manager Brad Treliving has stepped up to replace Gaudreau and Tkachuk, adding 115-point playmaker Jonathan Huberdeau and newly crowned Stanley Cup champion Nazem Kadri to the forward group. added to
Defenseman Mackenzie Wieger also joined. Over the past few years, the 28-year-old Wieger has shined in roles for his pair of top Panthers and is one of the league’s best-kept secrets.
If Wieger can maintain a high level of play in Calgary, he could quickly become the Flames’ number one defense.
Weegar is proficient on both ends of the ice. Defensively, his best attribute is his active stick. He ranked second in total blocked passes per game last season among his 163 defensive players who played at least 1,000 minutes. The only defenseman to finish ahead of Wieger in that category was Carolina’s Jakob Slavin, widely considered the top defensive defenseman in the league.
Weeger’s offensive game, on the other hand, is fueled by his ability to push the ice up and make opponents miss. Those skills should enhance the already powerful fire rush attack. Last season, at 1-1, he beat a defender 1-1, and the competent defense was 62.7% better than Wiger. Weegar’s 160 deke attempts put him tied for seventh at that position.
It’s important to note that Wieger’s success with the Panthers isn’t just about playing with Aaron Ekblad.
For example, when Ekblad broke his left leg in March 2021, the Panthers paired Wieger with Gustav Forsling for the remainder of the regular season. They controlled his 57.1% of expected goals in his nearly 300 minutes of ice time, compared to his 62.4% when Wieger and Ekblad were together before injury.
In Ekblad’s absence, Wieger led the Panthers with an average ice time of 21:57 and scored 17 points in 19 games.
Flames coach Darryl Sutter has a lot of options when it comes to fielding defensive pairs this season.
If Sutter chooses to keep Noah Hannifin and Rasmus Anderson together, Wieger can play alongside either Oliver Killington or Chris Taneff. Being able to do it plays a role in what he did when he teamed up with Ekblad.
Weegar is entering the final year of the deal with a $3.25 million cap hit. Sportsnet insider Elliot Friedman said in a recent episode: 32 Thoughts Wieger’s next deal could be similar to the eight-year, $52 million contract extension Boston Bruins defenseman Humpus Lindholm signed in March, according to a podcast.
Flames have already dealt with Huberdeau’s contract, and it would be wise to do the same with Weegar.
“We’re trying to get something done,” Weegar told reporters at the Flames’ charity golf tournament last week. “Hopefully we can get something done soon.”
Data from Sportlogiq.
Why Mackenzie Weeger is Calgary’s stolen base and #1 defenseman
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