Calgary Flames

Flames Sunday Census: Setting the market on Gaudreau and Tkachuk’s contracts

As the NHL offseason wears on, a few teams have gotten to work with re-signing their top players to massive, long-term contracts. Most recently, two separate eight-year contracts were handed out to Sean Couturier of the Philadelphia Flyers and Andrei Svechnikov of the Carolina Hurricanes—both of whom locked in deals worth $7.75M average annual value (AAV). If or when the Calgary Flames re-sign Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, how might these latest contracts affect the Flames’ deals? We asked, you answered.

Offseason signings for the Flames

As of August 29, 2021, the Flames have managed to tend to almost all of their restricted free agent signings this offseason, most recently with Dillon Dube. Only Connor Mackey remains in this list. However, the Flames have options to extend other players too, most notably the duo of Gaudreau and Tkachuk, as well as Andrew Mangiapane—as all three are free agents after next season, Gaudreau unrestricted, the other two restricted.

It’s a given that the Mangiapane’s next contract will be a sizable raise from his current $2.425M salary, but the dollar amount will be substantially greater for both Gaudreau and Tkachuk. How might their contracts compare to Couturier and Svecknikov’s?

The expectation looks to be that that both contracts will end up more than the $7.75M AAV.

Expectations on forward salaries

The flat salary cap ceiling is currently limiting, but a lot of contracts are for the future and players are getting paid. The reported rise in the cap to $82.5M in 2022–23 offers one extra million of flexibility for teams, and also sets expectations that the cap may continue to rise in the seasons to come. With that said, teams are handing out big contracts to players already.

Big money contracts ($9M+)

When it comes to contract amount, this offseason has been expensive for defenceman compared to their forward counterparts. Out of the seven contracts with an AAV of at least $9M this offseason, five of them were handed out to defencemen: Seth Jones with Chicago, eight years at $9.5M AAV; Cale Makar with Colorado, six years at $9M AAV; Dougie Hamilton with New Jersey, seven years at $9M AAV, Zach Werenski with Columbus, six years at $9.583M AAV; and Darnell Nurse with Edmonton, eight years at $9.25M AAV. All salary information from

The two forwards were Alex Ovechkin and Brayden Point, both signing $9.5M AAV deals for five and eight years, respectively. No other players have signed for greater than $9M so far in the 2021 offseason.

Nice contracts ($6M-$9M)

When you lower the AAV to the contracts signed between $6M to $9M, (i.e. contracts that are still worth a lot of money), the number of forwards far outnumber the defencemen. Miro Heiskanen‘s eight-year, $8.45M AAV contract with the Dallas Stars tops the list as a defenceman, but the remaining seven contracts in this range are all forwards. Listed in signing order: Taylor Hall with Boston, four years at $6M AAV; Gabriel Landeskog with Colorado, eight years at $7M AAV; Patrik Laine with Columbus, one year at $7.5M; Sam Reinhart with Florida, three years at $6.5M AAV; and the two of Couturier and Svechnikov’s eight year,$7.75M AAV deals.

Most recently and with the dust yet to settle, the Carolina Hurricanes tendered an offer sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi worth $6,100,035. The Montreal Canadiens have a week to determine whether they will match the offer or accept the compensation a first- and third-round pick.

Comparing the Flames’ forwards

So there’s a general trend this offseason that defenders are getting paid a lot more than forwards. This somewhat helps the Flames’ case if they are serious in their negotiations with both Gaudreau and Tkachuk’s parties. However, there’s much to be compared. To keep things more comparable age-wise, Gaudreau can be paired with Couturier while Tkachuk can be paired with Svechnikov.

Gaudreau versus Couturier

Gaudreau is entering his age-28 season, having recently turned 28 earlier in August, while Couturier is going to turn 29 midway through the 2021–22 season. For all intents and purposes, that can be considered close enough. We have two players who are in their prime who will have a couple of seasons before passing the age-30 threshold where declines in play are expected.

The Flames’ winger is finishing off his final year of a six-year, $6.75M AAV contract, whereas Couturier is similarly completing the last of six years in his $4.333M AAV deal. We can take a look at the impacts that each player has had over the past three seasons to compare their on-ice results. Data is from, with all 5v5 data score-and venue-adjusted.

Gaudreau’s stats over the past three years:

SeasonTotal G, A, P5v5 G, A, PTotal xGF%5v5 xGF%
2018–1936, 63, 9923, 37, 6062.6554.33
2019–2018, 40, 5811, 19, 3057.0448.96
2020–2119, 30, 4911, 16, 2761.2754.06

Couturier’s stats:

SeasonTotal G, A, P5v5 G, A, PTotal xGF%5v5 xGF%
2018–1933, 43, 7621, 22, 4355.4351.62
2019–2022, 37, 5915, 24, 3954.8655.38
2020–2118, 23, 4111, 14, 2555.4653.57

While these stats serve as a small snapshot of the two players, it shows that there are indeed some similarities between them. Gaudreau’s been a better point producer, but Couturier has been more consistent at generating offence at even strength. At a cursory look, Gaudreau’s camp has a pretty strong case to make that he should be in line for equal if not more than what Couturier will be making.

Tkachuk versus Svechnikov

Paralleling the above comparison, Tkachuk will be turning 24 midway through this upcoming season whereas Svechnikov is entering his age-21 season. Tkachuk took a three-year bridge deal while Svechnikov went straight to his big contract from his entry-level deal. Svechnikov’s new contract is set to start this season, while Tkachuk’s next contract will being in 2022–23. Let’s see how these two players compare.

Tkachuk’s stats over the past three years:

SeasonTotal G, A, P5v5 G, A, PTotal xGF%5v5 xGF%
2018–1934, 43, 7717, 24, 4162.6154.17
2019–2023, 38, 6112, 20, 3258.3952.43
2020–2116, 27, 4310, 16, 2662.0754.70

Svechnikov’s stats over the past three years:

SeasonTotal G, A, P5v5 G, A, PTotal xGF%5v5 xGF%
2018–1920, 17, 3713, 11, 2462.9858.20
2019–2024, 37, 6113, 21, 3465.1156.77
2020–2115, 27, 427, 14, 2162.1855.92

Discounting Svechnikov’s rookie season, Tkachuk and Svechnikov had fairly similar point production over the past two years, with Tkachuk taking a slight edge with better 5v5 results. However, both players have put up elite metrics in terms of generating scoring chances, where Svechnikov reliably fared better than Tkachuk, though not by much. Tkachuk’s camp, just like Gaudreau’s, has a good case in Svechnikov’s contract to use as a baseline.

Setting the salaries

As Calgary works on the next contracts for Gaudreau and Tkachuk, it’ll be interesting to see how dollar amounts pan out given that these two latest signings that match up so well for the players’ camps to use as a part of their negotiations.

Should the Flames opt to keep their core in tact, they’re going to have to make the space for it, and Gaudreau and Tkachuk are more than deserving of owning the two biggest contracts in Flames history in the cap era. I’d posit that if or when these two contracts are set, they’ll both look to be north of the $7.75M benchmark that has been set, just as the poll also turned out. Let’s see how long it takes for the Flames to hash out the numbers and put pen to paper for these contracts.

Photo by Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press 

Back to top button