NHL Rumors: Johnny Gaudreau on the open market?

johnny gaudreau
May 26, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) skates during the warmup period against the Edmonton Oilers in game five of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Rumors speculation on the Calgary Flames has begun less than 24 hours after being eliminated from the Playoffs.

At the forefront of all the talk is of course pending UFA forward Johnny Gaudreau. According to CapFriendly, the Flames have 13 players under contract and just $20 million to sign at least 6 forwards and 3 defensemen.

That of course becomes problematic if you sign Gaudreau to an 8 year max term deal around $9 or $10 million.

NHL Rumors: Johnny Gaudreau

Gaudreau, 28, just completed his 9th season in the NHL, all with the Flames. In 2021-2022, he had a career year posting 115 points (40 G – 75A) in 82 games. He’s been open about signing an extension to stay in Calgary.

“That’s between my agent and [GM Brad Treliving], and I probably won’t answer many questions for you throughout the year on that,” Gaudreau told the media when camp opened.

Towards the end of the season, the Flames went on record that they will do whatever it takes to get it done.

“We made a comment at the beginning of the year we weren’t going to talk about his contract publicly,” GM Brad Treliving said on Hockey Night in Canada After Hours. “We want him back here.

“We’re going to move heaven and earth and do everything we possibly can to get Johnny back here. You’ve seen it throughout the season. He’s a top player.”

These comments came off the heels of his assistant GM Craig Conroy saying: “That’s a done deal. We’re going to get that done.”

Gaudreau’s current deal expires on July 13 and comes with an AAV of $6.75 million. He is undoubtedly in-line for a lot more as current speculation sees him at 8x$9M.

If for some reason the two sides can’t come to terms and Gaudreau hits the open market it is believed that the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders will be the top two teams fighting for him in free agency.

Flames outlook

NHL rumors
May 15, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau (13) scores the overtime winner against the Dallas Stars in game seven of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Flames would also like to extend both Calle Jarnkrok and Nikita Zadorov. The harsh reality is there’s really limited space to get all their free agents signed. Here’s a list:

  • Johnny Gaudreau (UFA)
  • Matthew Tkachuk (RFA)
  • Andrew Mangiapane (RFA)
  • Calle Jarnkrok (UFA)
  • Nikita Zadarov (UFA)
  • Ryan Carpenter (UFA)
  • Trevor Lewis (UFA)
  • Brett Ritchie (UFA)
  • Erik Gudbranson (UFA)
  • Michael Stone (UFA)

All in all the Flames will have around 11 skaters and 2 goalies under term for the 2022-23 campaign. Giving Gaudreau the big contract eats up a lot of the available cap space and will make it very difficult to fill out the roster.

If Brady Tkachuk’s negotiations were indicative of anything it’s that his brother Matthew will hold out unless he gets what he’s looking for – which could be in $9M AAV range as well.

The Flames are going to be looking to shed salary and Sean Monahan is the most likely candidate. The 27 year-old has 1 year remaining at $6.375M and is recovering from hip surgery. Another possible candidate to clear space is Tyler Toffoli, who has 2 years left at $4.25M and can be traded anywhere.

Milan Lucic is a potential buyout candidate. His cap hit is $5.25M against the Flames (Edmonton retained some of the $6M AAV), and a buyout would save almost $700K. If the Flames can get a team to take him at 50% salary retention, that would be a better option.