Johnny Gaudreau’s Next Contract Will Be A Big Challenge for Brad Treliving

Life’s pretty good right now for Brad Treliving’s Calgary Flames. They’ve won five in a row overall (and nine straight on home ice). They’ve managed to drag themselves from the National Hockey League’s basement and into the verge of a playoff position.

Hopefully Treliving is enjoying life right now, because he’s going to have quite a few things to juggle going forward as he attempts to re-sign wunderkind Johnny Gaudreau, steady Sean Monahan and any number of other players on expiring contracts.

First and foremost, the most common question I’ve been getting on Twitter (and elsewhere) has been “Hey, when can they re-sign Johnny Gaudreau?”

The simple answer is that based on Article 50 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, they can re-sign Gaudreau at any time during the final year of his contract. In other words, they can re-up Gaudreau (and Monahan) anytime they wish.

But then there’s a bit of a wrinkle.

From the CBA:

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 4.15.42 PM

(TL;DR: teams can apply their remaining cap hit, plus the value of the expiring contracts on their roster, to the cap hit of future extensions.)

Let’s focus on Gaudreau first. He’s on a contract that has a cap hit of $1.85 million, including bonuses. The Flames have approximately $3 million of cap space right now, and they have (including Gaudreau) approximately $25.7 million in cap hits on expiring contracts. So the Flames are easily able to throw money at Gaudreau without much hassle from the CBA or next year’s salary cap.

But there are challenges that go along with extending Gaudreau.

First, there’s the obvious implications towards Sean Monahan’s contract. While Gaudreau will most likely get a higher AAV than Monahan because of how prolific he’s been at scoring at the NHL thus far – Gaudreau’s 0.87 career points-per-game drawfs Monahan’s 0.64 – Monahan’s not gonna get peanuts. He’s also gonna get fairly well-compensated. So if we presume that Gaudreau gets, I don’t know, $7.5 million per year (aka Vladimir Tarasenko money), that means Monahan probably makes about $6.5 million or thereabouts. [Aside: these numbers are pulled out of thin air, we’ll get into what these guys should be getting in the coming days/weeks.]

Secondly, here’s a listing of NHL players under contract for next season:

  • Forwards (8): Michael Frolik, Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Mason Raymond, Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma, Brandon Bollig and Micheal Ferland
  • Defensemen (6): Dougie Hamilton, Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman, Deryk Engelland and Ladislav Smid
  • Goalies: nobody

The challenge with Treliving re-signing Gaudreau (and subsequently Monahan) in-season is this: the Flames have no real idea right now what their goaltending situation is going to be next season (or how much goaltending will cost), are probably trying to figure out which prospects (if any) could jump to the NHL, what return they could get for Kris Russell/Jiri Hudler/David Jones, and how they’re going to replace those gentlemen on the roster. So Treliving needs to have a vague idea of how he’s going to fill out the rest of the roster before he ties up $14 million (or thereabouts) on two of the team’s best players. 

They’re restricted free agents and neither has arbitration rights. The deals are going to get done, it’s just a matter of time.

But with the rest of the roster very much in flux, the amount of relief teams will get from a changing salary cap in question, and the situation regarding the impending expansion of the league – and subsequent ability of general managers to possibly jettison some troublesome contracts – I’m not shocked that Brad Treliving hasn’t made a deal quite yet.

Gaudreau’s cap hit is going up every time the kid scores a dazzling goal or makes a great play – so basically every game – but until there’s a bit more clarity with any of the numerous situations that impact the team’s roster going forward, particularly in net, don’t be shocked if we don’t hear very much about a contract extension for Gaudreau (or Monahan).

  • cberg

    Good take on the overall situation. I agree, there are just too many other factors/players that need to be addressed first because of their Cap implications for the team. I would think after the TDL we’d have a clearer idea, but perhaps not till Summer if we’re on a playoff hunt and fail to trade out several players.

  • Kevin R

    Johnny is the one player I would lock up for 8 years which I believe is the allowed maximum under current CBA rules…..8 yrs $60M….I would expect his camp to give a bit on the bucks given the long term….

    If there is any hesitation from Johnny’s side on term then I would be concerned that the kid at some point will want to play in the east closer to home…

    • SmellOfVictory

      I wouldn’t worry about “closer to home”. This concern is brought up every time any high end player is up for contract renewal, and rarely does anything materialize out of it. Most players want three fundamental things: a decent salary, stability, and a competitive team. As long as the Flames are reasonably competitive, it’s a lot more likely that Gaudreau will prefer to stay here (especially given the rapport developed between management and the players) than go anywhere else, be it NJ or otherwise.

      I can only really think of three big name players in the past five years who have been insistent on going home: Parise, Suter, and Hamonic (and Hamonic clearly has family-related reasons).

  • Parallex

    Pay him what he wants and go from there, cut everything adrift at the deadline that you can, and promote from within, finding cheaper replacements..keep the handful of core guys and stay open to everything on everyone else

  • Parallex

    Pay him what he wants and go from there, cut everything adrift at the deadline that you can, and promote from within, finding cheaper replacements..keep the handful of core guys and stay open to everything on everyone else

  • Craik

    BT’s priority will be signing Gaudreau (& Monahan) then filling out the rest of the roster. The Flames will not make (or alter)contract offers to these two based on who is in goal next year or who gets traded away or who they resign.

    I agree with Stu Cazz. Although I am not generally a fan of long contracts, giving Gaudreau term is the right thing to do.

  • cunning_linguist

    This is why we NEED Gio back in Norris form asap. If he can get back to punching above his $6.75MM AAV, it gives the Flames leverage in their negotiations with Johnny and Monny’s camps (imagine the conversation if Gio was in his 2014-15 form: “Your Captain took less than $7MM a year and he’s the best defenseman in the league…”)

    Kind of like Iggy, or Lidstrom. Best player sets the ceiling, the rest of the team gets paid relatively..The only problem is right now, Johnny is blowing everyone on the team out of the water (except maybe Brodie…what a steal).

    Come on Gio, keep clawing your way back to elite status…your team needs you

    • piscera.infada

      Sure, you can make that argument. Then his camp can come back and say “look at the young players around the league who have recently signed long-term deals [perfect example, Tarasenko], and realize that Johnny has, to this point, put up a higher points per game pace than they have through their ELCs”.

      The captain argument sounds phenomenal, until you realize: 1) for that amount of money, you won’t be able to buy maximum UFA years, 2) if you get into a contract dispute with Gaudreau, you have no real leverage over him, 3) comparable players to Gaudreau make more than Giordano–ask Glencross if he had a do-over on his latest Flames’ contract if he’d take less because “reasons”.

      The point is, you’re going to have to pay Gaudreau in line with long-term deals for similar players. The Giordano contract doesn’t really matter, because of his age moving forward. Gaudreau’s production is likely to increase throughout an 8 year deal, and as such, you’ll have to pay him relatively, because Gaudreau signing an 8 year deal (while a “safe” plan), also caps his earning potential through his peak years.

  • Oil City Roller

    I can see signing Gaudreau to big money but I am less sold on Monahan. I don’t think Monahan is as good a player as the rest of Flames Nation does. He’s at a dangerous place regarding contracts, he looks like he has the potential to be a high impact player which means he will likely get paid based on that potential. The problem is I think he is only going to pan out as a decent but replaceable low impact player on an overpaid contract. I could be wrong but that’s the feeling I get from Monahan. Gaudreau on the other hand has offensive skill that’s hard to find. Signing that kid for big money doesn’t seem like a risky move.

    • CofRed4Life

      I’m inclined to agree about Monahan’s contract. His is a lot more risky. I think he has tremendous potential, but tapping that is the hard part. That being said, he’s still young, and it takes time for a lot of young players to really find their footing. Right now he’s just treading water with all the responsibility he’s getting, but I think eventually he’ll start swimming. I wouldn’t be opposed to a bridge contract for Monahan, though a long-term contract could also be a steal if he does live up to his potential that we all see.

      On Gaudreau, please sign him for the maximum amount. The kid is just magical.

      • Oil City Roller

        I agree, Gaudreau is a guy you sign for big money and he earns every penny. You’re right with Monahan, he might live up to the potential and that would be huge for the Flames. The risk is he might not and you are stuck with an over valued contract that is impossible to unload. I’ve never been a huge fan of the bridge contract. Look at what happened in Edmonton with Petry. The most heinous one MacT refused to give him term and made him “prove himself” on a one year deal. Petry proved himself alright and they had to deal him away at the deadline for garbage or risk losing him for nothing in free agency. I honestly don’t know what I would do with Monahan.

      • piscera.infada

        I still think you can get away with a decent long-term Monahan contract between 5 and 6 million per. The thing with Monahan is that I think he can get better in his own zone, but he will always have the ability to score goals in bunches (and that’s something that NHL teams cannot afford to undervalue).

        I’ve never been under the “Toews illusion” with regard to Monahan, and I’ve always seen him as an elite 2c if he develops as his promise seems to illustrate he can. That said, I still think you need to lock him up long-term, because if he ever does figure out his own zone, he’s going to be an incredibly valuable and expensive player.

        I’d be willing to hedge my beats on Monahan, simply because at his age, if he continues to score at a similar rate, he’ll be worth that money in trade if you ever needed to go there. He’s an extremely important part of this team moving forward (whether it’s as a #2 centre or more).

        Basically, signing him to an Oilers-style contract will not work against you. Sean Monahan is basically a rich man’s Nugent-Hopkins. That will always be palatable.

        • CofRed4Life

          Agreed. And I think if BT can sign Monahan to a deal under $6 million, he should do it every time because of his steadiness in putting up points. Even when he was having a “slow” start to the year, he was still scoring. It’s his defensive game that needs the most work. I think he already has the offensive prowess to always be a dangerous goal scorer.

        • Danomitee

          Assessing Monny’s value is going to be tough. He had a really strong rookie year, he was able to step right in as an 18 year old and make an immediate impact. Then Johnny came and he had a great sophmore year. However, I am still not sure how good he is when seperated from Johnny…we really have never seen it. Let’s be honest some of the goals that Monny scores are gifts from Johnny…just ask Hudler. I still think he is a quality player and a big part of our future just not sure of the value…dollar wise.

    • piscera.infada

      Any player is at risk to regress. Monahan is our #1 center for now and the conceivable future, until Bennett or Janko or whomever replaces him. You pay him for an expected growth and current results. He was a 60 point player last year. He is trending that way again this year (29g, 37a, 66 points).

      He has some ways to go; improving possession and faceoffs, PK and PP, etc. But he also has faced the league’s best for the last two years. He is part of the core. $6m is a steal.

      Johnny is a special player, and there is no ceiling to his game that I can envision. His goals are mostly all his work, while his assists are a thing of beauty. A 2nd year player on a team with mediocre zone entry and a paltry PP system that is top 10 in the league? Imagine if the PP had a decent strategy and was able to score even 5% more; the points would be ridiculous. Lock him up to 8 years and don’t worry about what Gio makes. No Flames player has the same impact on a crowd.

  • piscera.infada

    There is a risk of piling too much money into 2 players similiar to Chicago with Kane and Toews. It has worked out well for Chicago winning a couple of Stanley Cups with its 2 core players and strategically building a team around them. Thye typically have a couple of lean years but still decent before coming back and being a contender.

    Johnny is a bonafide game breaker, there may only be a handfull of these type of players in the league. Not only is he almost a point/per game player he is dynamic and brings fans and his own bench out of their seats.
    I don’t think he has come close to reaching his ceiling yet. Kane was always good but now he is great.

    Johnny is also benefitting from the change in league paradigm. The league is cracking down on clutching and grabbing, interference, and headshots. The league has worked on eliminating the after whistle altercations by making those type of players obsolete. The emphasis is on skill and scoring as seen by the push to change goalie equipment size and crease size. As well, the 3v3 OT is now being adopted as the key All-Star format. The league is finally rewarding players that have skill regardless of size.

    Johnny is worth every penny that he gets for helping resurrect the Flames, can’t think of a better player to help fill the new arena.

  • Kevin R

    Johnny at 7.5 mill per for 8 years is a no brainer & probably an easy sign for both sides. I would like to see Monahan get a Hamilton type of deal. Monahan hasn’t had anywhere near the year johnny has but we still have over 50 games left. If he pops 35 goals I don’t think the sign a Hamilton type of contract will work either. I agree, allocate $14 mill of cap for these two guys & take a long hard look at your roster. TDL is coming fast.

    • supra steve

      Ideally, your whole team would sign reasonable one year contracts and come back for another reasonable one year deal the next season. That would work best for the club. Bridge deals sometimes work well too, but not in a case like PK Subban. Players love guaranteed money, and the way that happens for these young skilled players is big money long term deals.

      Also, 3yr bridge followed by 8 year deals puts them both at post apex before that 8 years is up.

        • supra steve

          Hey, if their agents allow them to sign bridge deals, that could be great for the Flames (or it could end up like the Subban bridge and cost the club a lot of money). Also, if the agents go along with the bridge idea, they should probably be fired.

          And JG would be almost 34 at the end of your 3 plus 8 year deals.

          • piscera.infada

            If Johnny Gaudreau stays roughly stagnant in production over those three years (let’s say just a touch under a point per game–so no improvement, but no regression), what is he worth in three more seasons? 10 million per? 11 million per? What?

  • Trevy

    Johnny falls in line with Tarasenko and will be paid as such, as for Monahan, to me he falls in line more like Eberle or Nuge ($6 mill) range. BT has a knack in negotiating contracts and I believe he’ll succeed with these two. I’m 100% positive he’s also budgeting for the goaltender position come next year. It makes me laugh at all these blogs coming out as if this whole cap budget situation has now just been realized. BT is not a stupid GM. He has a 5 yr forecast business plan with various different scenarios. I’m quite confident he’s prepared and has contingency plans in place for whatever arises, although it is fun to play armchair GM and speculate what you would do.

    • piscera.infada

      Explain to me how Anton Khudobin is a sizable upgrade on Hiller or Ramo. Also, explain to me why we should go back to the three-headed goalie monster.

      • Burnward

        Hiller would be fired to the moon.

        Don’t have any evidence except for not wanting to see Hiller again and I’ve always liked the little Russian. I’m beyond done with Hiller.

        • piscera.infada

          Being done with Hiller is entirely reasonable. It doesn’t change the fact that by acquiring Khudobin on waivers, you’ve 1) acquired one more contract towards the limit, 2) you have three goalies on your NHL roster (again), 3) you still have (an untradable) Hiller on the books (because firing him to the moon doesn’t actually solve anything, other than him being on the moon), and 4) you have less cap-space because Khudobin is still going to cost you somewhere around 2 million.

        • piscera.infada

          As I’ve said countless times, and as someone else eluded to above. Tarasenko is currently making 7.5 per. Although he’s played one more season in the league, Gaudreau has a higher points per game rate. If Gaudreau were to finish the season at 75 or more points, that’s going to be the first contract brought up in bargaining.

          If you sign Gaudreau to a three-year deal, he will have arbitration rights on his next contract, and you’ll have to buy more UFA season. You also make it more palatable for him to leverage a shorter deal, so he can test unrestricted free agency (making his UFA years even more expensive).

          The right call is to sign him long-term now. I’m willing to have a discussion about Monahan though.

          • Burnward

            Could be right. Just would hate to see Johnny potentially walk at 29-30.

            But what are we worried about? He’s perfect. He will negotiate fair contracts that will benefit him and the team for seasons to come.

  • The Last Big Bear

    So Treliving needs to have a vague idea of how he’s going to fill out the rest of the roster before he ties up $14 million (or thereabouts) on two of the team’s best players.

    Nope.

    There is literally no possible combination of circumstances on the rest of the roster that would change anything about re-signing Gaudreau and Monahan.

    Other than Bennett, Brodie, and Monahan, I would ship out literally every single other player on the roster in a heartbeat before I even gave a thought about messing with Johny and Monahan’s contracts.

  • Burnward

    Johnny Gaudreau is the heart of the Flames. I would say 8/8 would be a fair contract for him.

    He’s not quite in Patrick Kane territory yet. Gotta win three cups for that.

    Hope BT gets it done for Calgary’s sake.

  • Danomitee

    The only thing that worries me about long term contracts are injuries. Look at Savard and Pronger, done due to concussions and theyre respective teams had to trade their rights away because they were still getting paid. Johnny doesn’t have an injury history but he hasn’t reaallly been hit like we’ve seen and if he does take a massive blow from a goon like Dustin Brown the principal point of contact has to be his head based on his size.

    Again, love this kid he deserves the money and term I’m just not comfortable with doing it myself.

  • Parallex

    Extend Johnny to the max term allowed under the CBA. I’m 100% sold on that.

    Not so sold on Monahan. We’re definetly getting Toews counting stats but so far we’re not getting Toews Possession or Toews defensive acumen and I don’t think you can pay him on the assumption that we will for max term. So then we have two options… try to pay him the appropriate amount of money on a long term deal based on the assumption that what he is now is what he will be for the life of the contract or bridge deal him. I’m guessing that his agent will prefer the latter.

  • RKD

    Gaudreau should be paid like an elite player because he is one and should be a Flame for life. Monahan should get similar or close to Gaudreau. These guys are the future along with Bennett and they are the ones who should be leading us.

  • Willi P

    Being realistic. We have all seen what the huge contracts have done to Tampa Bay, Chicago and other squads. Treliving has a plan which includes financial forecasts that extend out up to five years.

    These guys are RFAS and he can offer them 10 percent if he wishes. That would be upsetting to all concerned. I think fair is $ 3.5 each through their RFA period and beyond that if the boys are still producing, a level headed salary. You already have a heavy G. and D. salary base. There is only so much money to throw around. Therefore you have to be careful as to how far you go. Two guys cannot play forward for 60 minutes straight. There are other guys to keep happy. Please 3-5 year contracts at $ 8 and $9 Mil are unrealistic for these players.