Costing out a long-term Johnny Gaudreau deal

Johnny Gaudreau is a special hockey player.

Way back when, in 2011, the Calgary Flames selected him in the fourth round and hoped that his speed, tenacity and puck-artistry from the United States Hockey League could someway, somehow translate to the collegiate level and that hopefully he’d turn into a decent professional someday. And here we are, roughly four and a half years later, and the Gaudreau selection seems like one of the most significant steals of the past few years of NHL drafting.

But now that Gaudreau has established himself as a bonafide, top-flight NHL scorer, the Flames will have to open up their pocket-book and pay the man. So what should we expect to see when Gaudreau’s new deal is announced?


First off, let’s ignore ages and everything else. Compared to current NHL forwards, how does Gaudreau stack up?

GOALS: Right now, Gaudreau is just outside of the NHL leaderboard for goals. However, he’s tied for seventh in even-strength goals (behind Tyler Seguin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Mike Hoffman, Taylor Hall, Joe Pavelski and Jeff Skinner). Considering Calgary’s bad power-play, that’s pretty good. He’s tied for second in game-winning goals and is the league-leader in overtime goals.

POINTS: Gaudreau is tied for seventh in points (with Tarasenko), behind Patrick Kane, Seguin, Benn, Hall, Daniel Sedin (and defenseman Erik Karlsson). On a per-game basis, he’s sixth outright (ahead of Hall, Tarasenko and Sedin).


Gaudreau is 11th among all players from the 2011 Draft Class. Everyone
ahead of him have played more games (Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat
have played 50 and 70 more games; Gaudreau’s five points behind Kucherov).

Goal-scoring: same number of goals as Boone Jenner. Ten more than Ryan Strome.

Player GP G Pts G/GP Pts/GP
Gabriel Landeskog 310 88 217 0.28 0.70
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 290 73 211 0.25 0.73
Brandon Saad 241 63 147 0.26 0.61
Ondrej Palat 188 43 133 0.23 0.71
Jonathan Huberdeau 228 42 131 0.18 0.57
Sean Couturier 313 50 129 0.16 0.41
Mika Zibenejad 231 48 120 0.21 0.52
Andrew Shaw 277 61 115 0.22 0.42
Mark Scheifele 187 41 105 0.22 0.56
Nikita Kucherov 166 50 103 0.30 0.62
Johnny Gaudreau 112 37 98 0.33 0.88

So compared to the others from his draft-class, Gaudreau’s 11th overall in points but on a per-game basis, he’s out-produced everyone in terms of goals and points by a sizeable margin. The comparable players that have a long-term post-entry-level contract among this group are Landeskog ($5.571m AAV), Nugent-Hopkins ($6m AAV) and Saad ($6m AAV), and Gaudreau has out-scored them on a per-game basis by a lot. The only argument when comparing Gaudreau to this group to keep his cap hit down is that he’s played fewer games than everybody else.


A lot of the players from the 2011 Draft that are comparable are also pending RFAs, so to some degree teams may be waiting on each other to set the market in terms of players with similar games-played to Gaudreau like Ryan Strome, Boone Jenner, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. So we look to the 2010 Draft, and players that have already played through their entry-level deals and have cashed in.

Player GP G Pts G/GP Pts/GP
Tyler Seguin 386 147 324 0.38 0.84
Taylor Hall 332 121 298 0.36 0.90
Jeff Skinner 367 129 233 0.35 0.63
Ryan Johansen 302 79 189 0.26 0.63
Vladimir Tarasenko 211 86 168 0.41 0.80
Jaden Schwartz 214 62 139 0.29 0.65
Brendan Gallagher 229 67 135 0.29 0.59
Mikael Granlund 188 21 107 0.11 0.57
Tyler Toffoli 179 49 105 0.27 0.59
Mark Stone 133 37 100 0.28 0.75
Nick Bjugstad 182 48 94 0.26 0.52

Again, Gaudreau compares very favourably to this group on a per-game basis. He’s got more points-per-game than everybody except Taylor Hall (though Seguin and Tarasenko are close), and more goals-per-game than everybody but Seguin, Hall, Skinner and Tarasenko.

So the comparable group from 2010 includes Seguin ($5.75m AAV), Hall ($6m AAV), Skinner ($5.725m AAV) and Tarasenko ($7.5m AAV). Like Pat, I agree that Tarasenko’s a good comparison, but if I’m the Flames I make the argument that Tarasenko’s super goal-scoring should make him higher paid and arguably pushes him slightly out of the comparison range.


Every comparable player we’ve identified from a similar age group as Gaudreau makes between $5.5 million and $6 million, with Tarasenko being an outlier at $7.5 million. But Gaudreau out-scores basically everybody in the identified peer group (or scores at a very similar rate), so it’s very realistic to expect him to sign for around $6 million per year, if not slightly north of that. The only arguments that could keep his cap hit down are sample-size arguments – that he hasn’t maintained a high level of offensive production over the long-term yet. If that’s all you have, and Gaudreau’s established himself as a top-flight NHLer that the Flames rely upon to generate offense, those arguments will be discarded very quickly.

Remember, the idea is that for every season of unrestricted free agency that a player gives up by signing long-term, you’re expecting his cap hit to go up a bit from what it “should” be. Right now the market places Gaudreau’s value around $6 million and change, but if he signs for the maximum eight-year extension (and gives up a few seasons of free agency) his cap hit should probably be closer to $6.5 million.

  • Cfan in Vic

    Would like to see these guys deals relative to the cap at that time,

    % of total team salary at time of deals would be a good way to level out a Gadreau deal

  • Parallex

    follow Detroit and Chicago bridge em of possible at shorter term and keep climbing and rising with the cap to maintain a possible dynasty compared to what Pittsburgh has done… but if he gets 8 years 7.5 a year I won’t freak out monohan deserves similar forsure

  • FeyWest

    I’m looking for some more Tre PFM on his contract signings 7 to 8 would be standard so if we can get anything less than Tarasenko money I think we can look at that as a steal. Anything in the 6 mil range couldn’t possibly happen… could it?

  • SmellOfVictory

    6.5 x 8 would be absolutely lovely for Gaudreau. I think it bears mentioning that most of the 5.5-6.0 contracts were signed a couple of years ago, so cap inflation would put 6.5 million pretty much on par with what those guys got.

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    So uh… you guys here on FN should maybe at least TRY and coordinate publishing articles? Having 2 of pretty much the exact same article in a row is kinda useless…

    • piscera.infada

      So I won’t repeat my comment in Pats article that JGs impact on our team and the fan excitement he generates is such that a Tarasenko contract will be considered a home town deal. These deals are always about future. If the stats so far were critical then they’d push for bridge deal. But they aren’t. His nickname will become Johnny Franchise and I’m fine with that!

  • piscera.infada

    Great article, thanks. One small issue that I have with PPG comparisons is that Gaudreau’s body of evidence is only as an older player, while most of the others (especially in the 2011 cohort) have stats included from teen years, which likely deflate most of these players (assuming most have improved since).

    It might be more fair to make the PPG comparisons in the seasons that these players were all the same age as Gaudreau while in the NHL, aka last season and first part of this season for the 2011 class. I know Gaudreau will still look good, but I’m suspicious that there might be a few others who look better in that light.

    • piscera.infada

      While I don’t necessarily disagree, I think it’s a tough call to make, simply because even though Gaudreau is older, he’s far less experienced. Some of those players have played 2 to 3 full seasons before Gaudreau even entered the league. I mean assessing careers at an early stage is always going to be wrought with issues. I guess it really depends on what’s more important from a development standpoint: age or experience.

  • piscera.infada

    This one is easy… Tarasenko is the perfect comparable. 60m over 8 yrs. Pay the kid… dont piss him off… show him you appreciate him and in 3-4 years this contract will look great for the Flames

  • RKD

    I would love if he would sign at $6.5 million but if we have to give him $7 or $7.5 million that would not bother me. What would bother me is an east coast team signing him to an offer sheet.

  • BornInAGretzkyJersey

    Johnny Hockey would do well to take a team friendly cap hit in order to build a core. Players like Monahan and Bennett will all need paid and there’s value in team depth.

    6MM a year would be a manageable cap hit and isn’t a slap in the face either. Something like 6 years would allow for him to cash in on the next contract if he continues to produce.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Although I’m an Oilers fan I have tremendous respect for Johnny Hockey, and I think it’s pretty cool that he has overcome some big odds to accomplish what he has already. (Being smaller and a late round draft pick)

    That said I think that comparing him to Tarasanko or Hall or Seguin is foolish. In the article it says sample size is the only argument against him. Sample size is important in this circumstance.

    A couple examples:
    Us Oilers fans thought Eberle was the best winger in the game after he came on strong to finish his rookie season and then had 76 points in 78 games in his second year.

    Skinner won the Calder in his rookie year and looked like the steal of the draft, but now i wouldnt put him in the “elite scorer” category.

    Good luck for the rest of the year, hopefully we can see playoff battle of alberta’s soon.