Calgary Flames

Flames Sunday Census: Feelings about Johnny Gaudreau’s contract negotiation

Now that the 2022 NHL Draft has come and gone, the Calgary Flames will have all of their attention on their biggest priority of the entire offseason: re-signing unrestricted free agent Johnny Gaudreau. With free agency looming being literally days away, the clock is ticking on the Flames trying to get pen to paper with a new contract for their superstar.

With very little news or rumblings coming out of the Flames front office, the anticipation on anything Gaudreau related is reaching its boiling point, and we wanted to know how everyone else felt about the Gaudreau contract negotiations. We asked, you answered.

The run down on Gaudreau’s contract

Unusually, most of the contract talk around Gaudreau has been eerily quiet compared to other free agents. Even now, it seems as though hockey insiders and even the Flames themselves aren’t totally sure what Gaudreau is going to do—for what it’s worth, Gaudreau seems to be truly stuck on this decision.

The Flames have made their offer and are waiting for Gaudreau’s camp, but that’s about as much as anyone knows. Now just days away from free agency, things still have not become clearer. From the perspective of the Flames community, it’s a high stress situation no matter the outcome as this determines the path for the Flames for years to come.

Cautiously optimistic

Nearly 40% of votes showed that they’re cautiously optimistic about Gaudreau’s contract. This might be due in part to the latest from general manager Brad Treliving, where he was exuding optimism on the negotiation during the NHL Draft. Greg Wyshynski presented a direct quote from Treliving himself that was very different from the tune of other insiders over the past few weeks.

From this quote alone, it has renewed a sense that an extension is in the realm of possibility or even in the realm of becoming near reality, rather than a dream (or nightmare) that the Flames’ superstar would walk for nothing.

Prepared for the worst

The flip side of this entire argument is that until there is ink on paper, all the optimism in the world doesn’t change the fact that there is no contract yet. There’s no guarantee of anything happening and the Flames need to secure the future by re-signing their elite winger, and go beyond just talking about how they think they will get the contract signed. Almost a third of all votes went this direction too, expecting the worst to happen.

Over the past few days, some Eastern teams have changed their landscape in terms of roster players, and that does get in the way of making bids for Gaudreau. For example, the Philadelphia Flyers—one of the teams most heavily linked to Gaudreau—went and acquired the signing rights of Tony DeAngelo and gave him a two-year contract worth $5M AAV. That team currently sits at $118,560 in cap space, making it a near impossibility to even find any way of pitching an offer for Gaudreau.

However, two teams to watch for right now are the New Jersey Devils, who have over $25M in cap space, and the New York Islanders, who have just north of $11M. Should either of those teams make serious pitches for Gaudreau, they can definitely find a way to make it work financially.

In any case, there are still real landing spots other than Calgary that Gaudreau could consider. Preparing for the worst is the most cynical view on the contract situation, but it some senses, accepting the worst case scenario could be one that gives the most inner peace on the entire ordeal.

Slightly nervous

With what we know about Gaudreau’s situation, every sense of logic makes it clear that re-signing with Calgary is his best shot at winning a Stanley Cup. The team is the closest it can get to perennial contender status out of most possible landing spots. Everything the Flames have right now all gives Gaudreau the highest probability of competing for the Cup in his athletic prime.

However, turning away from the on-ice product, he is about to become a new father with most/all of his family in the East coast of the USA. Family plays a strong role in any career decision and wanting to be close to family, especially as a new dad, is more than reasonable. It does give shades of Kawhi Leonard opting to go play with the Los Angeles Clippers after winning it all with the Toronto Raptors.

So in a battle of hockey logic versus family logic, there’s no telling what the final factor could be for Gaudreau, which makes being slightly nervous all the more reasonable too. At the end of the day he’ll have to make the choice that’s best for him.

Complete confidence

Now, being completely confident on any contract negotiation is putting a lot of faith into all the parties involved. While Treliving is known to be one of the better GMs in terms of getting players signed, Gaudreau is in a unique situation of being in line for possibly one of, if not the biggest contract in Flames history. This is very different from any contract any Flames player or GM would have had to negotiate.

However, it’s a big contract for one of the biggest superstars in the league. If there was ever a time to get a contract done, it is clearly right now. Treliving said himself that the Flames would “move heaven and earth” to get Gaudreau re-signed. The Flames have the eighth year to offer Gaudreau while other teams only have seven. Strictly speaking, the Flames have leverage over other teams when it comes to what the contract itself can entail.

The Flames have the strongest relationship with Gaudreau, they have a great relationship with the rest of the Gaudreau family, and they’ve done everything they could to make Calgary as preferred a destination as they can short of bypassing democracy and naming Gaudreau the mayor. If this doesn’t get Gaudreau signed, what will? You have to believe the Flames have done everything within the realm of their control, and at that point, what more can you ask for?

The clock is ticking

Watching the onset of free agency, weeks turned into days, and now the days are turning into hours. We’ll soon know what the Flames and Gaudreau will ultimately do, and the future of the Flames will be set on two different paths depending on what happens. How are you feeling about Gaudreau’s contract? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @wincolumnCGY.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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