Johnny Gaudreau is in the final year of his entry level contract and he’s eligible for a new contract anytime. Now it’s time for us to come to grips with what comes next. Since entering the league, Gaudreau has done nothing but wow and impress and is showing no signs of slowing down. Gaudreau is going to get paid, and he is going to get paid a lot. Let’s start to ballpark what this new contract might actually look like.
In this day and age, contract extensions like Gaudreau’s and the one that teammate Sean Monahan will be signing aren’t necessarily about what has been accomplished. It’s more about what could be accomplished and a dollar figure is determined using projections and comparing to other similar players. That’s what we’ll do here, too.
Finding a comparable
Before we go any further, let’s take a look at Gaudreau’s numbers in his first two NHL seasons. The second season stats include projected totals over a full season, as he’s only 31 games in at the time of this article. Also, I’m quite proud of my ever evolving table skills.
In reality, a lot of the comparable contracts I first came up with don’t apply as much anymore. Guys like Taylor Hall, Matt Duchene, and Patrick Kane signed their second contracts under much different economic circumstances. The cap is higher now than it was then and salaries have escalated significantly when guys like that signed their first extensions.
So when coming up with a relevant comparable contract, you have to look at something that was signed more recently. That’s why Vladimir Tarasenko is the most relevant contract comparison to look at right now. Tarasenko signed an eight year, $60 million deal this past summer with the St. Louis Blues. It’s a deal that carries an average annual value (AAV) of $7.5 million and really does set the bar in a lot of ways for Gaudreau.
As you can see below, Tarasenko’s numbers in his first two full seasons were very much in the same ballpark as Gaudreau’s. Yes, they’re different players, but they have a few things in common. Both play the wing, so don’t carry the extra caveat of being a centre. Both have the ability to generate offence from seemingly nothing. And they both broke into the NHL a little older than high end picks coming from the CHL.
Looking at those two tables so close together really gives you a good idea as to just how close the numbers for these guys are and will likely be. Tarasenko got paid and rightfully so, and if I’m the Gaudreau camp, I’m looking for something in this ballpark without question.
A final number
Knowing that Tarasenko is at $7.5 million on his AAV, it’s tough to justify why Gaudreau would come significantly lower. If you were to have brought this topic up over the summer, I’d probably lean towards the $6 million range on Gaudreau. But the season he’s had so far makes that seem rather unrealistic at this point.
The saving grace from a Flames perspective might be the fact that General Manager Brad Treliving has proven himself to be fairly proficient at negotiating. The deal he got TJ Brodie to agree to about a year ago looks like straight up highway robbery right now. And while there’s not a lot of love for the Mark Giordano contract right now, it did come in a little bit lower than I expected it would.
Getting Gaudreau to come in lower than $7 million is going to be tough. Giving Treliving some credit, I’m going to ballpark this contract at around 8 years and $56 million total. That puts Gaudreau’s AAV a little lower than perhaps it could be, but it’s also comparable enough to market value to satisfy the player’s side of things.
Whatever the case, it’s time to face the reality of the situation: Gaudreau is not coming cheap on this extension. He’s been outstanding since entering the league and he’s given the Flames an offensive dynamic they haven’t had in ages. Calgary is going to have to make sacrifices to keep their impressive core together, but what other choice do they have but to compensate their best players? As the immortal Teddy KGB said: “pay that man his money”.