Johnny Gaudreau is going to get paid

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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.

Johnny Chart

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.

Tarasenko Chart

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”.

  • flames2015

    Gaudreau definitely deserves to get paid the big bucks. If treliving could get him at $7 million that would be great, but there’s no arguing from me on whatever they settle on. This kid has heart, drives our offense and is truly clutch when it matters.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Sadly it looks like the Flames would’ve been a lot better off extending Monahan and Gaudreau last offseason and leaving Giordano until the end of this season.

  • Kevin R

    Watching Gaudreau play this year at the Dome, we have absolutely no choice but give him his $$$. I was hoping for cheaper as well last summer, I just didn’t expect him to dominate the Flames offence the way he has this year again. I kinda thought he would be OK but a combo of sophomore jinx & mega attention from other teams would have kept his PPG pace to around the .7-.8. Now, that Tarasenko deal is pretty good comparable of what he will & should make. So I have accepted he will be a 8 year 7.5 mill per cap hit. Worth every penny. If Tre gets that number down to $7.mill per avg for 8 years, I will be nothing short of ecstatic. Under 7.0mill, well….. I would vote Tre to be the next Finance Minister.

  • Kevin R

    Watching Gaudreau play this year at the Dome, we have absolutely no choice but give him his $$$. I was hoping for cheaper as well last summer, I just didn’t expect him to dominate the Flames offence the way he has this year again. I kinda thought he would be OK but a combo of sophomore jinx & mega attention from other teams would have kept his PPG pace to around the .7-.8. Now, that Tarasenko deal is pretty good comparable of what he will & should make. So I have accepted he will be a 8 year 7.5 mill per cap hit. Worth every penny. If Tre gets that number down to $7.mill per avg for 8 years, I will be nothing short of ecstatic. Under 7.0mill, well….. I would vote Tre to be the next Finance Minister.

  • Captain Ron

    He is a 7 mil player and then some for sure. I’m not one to actually give much of a crap about cap space and salaries etc in general but give him what he deserves so I can watch him play here for years to come. Just structure the deal so that we have room for the other guys we will need to win the big one. It is all I ask.

  • RKD

    Good Article Pat.
    BT has demonstrated himself to be a Savant of sorts in negotiating contracts, as you have pointed out (I’ll see your Rounders reference and raise you Rainman :).
    I feel he will use every tactic at his disposal to bring this contract south of 7 mil. AAV: Jonny’s possession #’s aren’t as good as 91’s, his production on the road isn’t as good as at home, Gio is the teams Captain and “best player” (at least he was) so no one is making more than 6.75 AAV until they demonstrate a more significant body of work etc…Not that I or the Gaudreau camp should believe any of this, but BT will certainly try.

    The casualty I fear will be the term. Sure the team will want the maximum, but the Gaudreau camp will want Jonny re-negotiating his next contract prior to the age of 30 for maximum dough.

    I predict identical 6 year contracts for both Jonny and Monny at AAV of 6.5-6.75. Let’s see what happens

  • Craik

    Give at least 7 years at at least 7 AAV to Gaudreau, Monahan should see something similar.

    I’m constantly seeing comparables in Towes and Kane by the way they play and can turn a game around. Just shower these guys with cash asap

  • MontanaMan

    I am all in for JG for a long term contract in the $7.0 to $7.5 range (still can’t believe how he has developed out of a fourth round pick!) Monahan is a completely different player and doesn’t command the numbers that JG will receive but will still be well paid. For discussion, does Calgary have any interest in Ryan Johansen (if he’s available)? The kid has had his ups and downs but he’s a big, skilled centre and only 23 years old. If so, what starts the discussion? Bennett? Monahan? Any thoughts or stay the course?

    • flames2015

      I don’t think the Flames would be interested in Johansen. It’d be nice to have a true #1 center right now, but we have the right pieces for one of our guys now to take that role, hopefully Benett sooner than later. Johansen is expected to get a big pay raise, and I just don’t see him worth it. We do lack depth on wingers, especially since we are very likely to trade Hudler come deadline regardless if we are making a playoff push at that time or not. Jones might also test free agency should the flames not make him an offer.

      • cberg

        Not sure why Flames fans seem to have the “grass is greener” mentality so often in relation to our own players versus others’. The comment above “It’d be nice to have a true #1 center right now” is a typical example. We denigrate our own #1 Centre, Monahan who had 31 goals last year, played tough minutes, is clutch, great attitude and etc, while at the same time holding up 26-goal Johansson, bad attitude, out of shape, overpaid… as if he’s some sort of fantastic player that hopefully, if we’re lucky, at some point in the future one of our own can maybe attain to his exalted levels. BS. Not interested. We’re doing just fine and will continue to develop and grow the ones we have.

        • Kevin R

          I think Bennett & Monahan are going to be great up the middle in the very near future. The potential has other teams salivating. We need to find that young top 6 winger that oozes elite like Monahan & Bennett (sorry Johnny is generational JMO) It doesn’t matter who you put on with Gaudreau & Monahan, that line always seems dangerous. We need to find that young player that will flank Bennett, feed off of each other the way Monahan & Gaudreau do. We need a a winger. Not a centre like Johansen. He will be expensive, he’s a very good young player but not what this team needs.

          Target for me would be Drouin or hearing Nichushkin may be available as Dallas are looking for a good Dman. Russell has played great lately, especially against Dallas, can we dangle Russell + for Nichushkin. Anyway, I love seeing Gaudreau & Monahan building something like Benn & Seguin have built. We need that Ying & Yang soul mate for Bennett. I’m hoping for playoffs this year so I don’t think we are drafting that player, maybe we can trade for it.

  • RKD

    Johnny hockey is going to get paid and get paid he will. Anything less than $7 million would be an insult to him. Treliving has got to do everything to keep Gaudreau a Flame for a very long time. When Gaudreau and Monahan get new deals and Gio’s contract kicks in next season that will be a lot of money tied up. These deals will also affect Sam Bennett’s deal down the road. Trelving will have to do a lot of creative juggling. As long as we have Brodie, Gaudreau, Monahan, Bennett and Hamilton for many years I will be glad. Still can’t believe how we have Brodie at less than $5 million per season.

    • RKD

      The more you pay Johnny, the harder he is going to compete. If you give him $7m and he doesn’t get a point in a game, or flubs a play, he is going to go ballistic. His expectations of himself being paid ELC money is through the roof.

      What I am getting at is that the kid is not greedy. He will sign a contract based on what he feels he can deliver. His agent will advise him, but I doubt he wants to be in the Tarasenko $$ range.

      • piscera.infada

        His agent will advise him, but I doubt he wants to be in the Tarasenko $$ range.

        Why not? If you’re worth that much in the market, why wouldn’t you want to be paid that (greedy or not)?

        Look, if you’re signing a 7 or 8 year deal, you’re limiting the number to future contract you can get. Sure, there’s an added perk of stability, but in all likelihood, if he took, say, a 3 or 4 year deal, by the end of that, he’s worth considerably more.

        This has nothing to do with greed, and everything to do with a young man’s livelihood.

        Pay him what is fair over the long-term, and don’t try to strong arm him into a lowball contract. Not only might that hurt your reputation amoungst other players in the league (potential free agents, trades, resignings), it could damage a relationship with your most important offensive weapon moving forward.

        • piscera.infada

          He’s a humble kid. He has a prove-it mentality. He probably doesn’t think any player is worth over $7m. Sure he has confidence in his skills, but he also needs to show people every time he is on the ice. IMHO, he wants to be paid, but doesn’t have the same beliefs of money and wealth that say a PK Subban or Tarasenko has. He is not flashy. He still lives with Josh Jooris, in the smaller of two bedrooms. Offer $56m over 8 years? He would laugh all the way to the bank.

        • cberg

          Look, I get it about the going rate and etc, but let’s get real for a minute. JH could retire and never work again after the dollars he earns on his ELC. His next contract has nothing to do with livelihood.

          • piscera.infada

            Why does that matter at all? Of course it has something to do with his livelihood. It’s immaterial whether we want to debate the merits of one’s salary. Gaudreau has the elite set of skills to be one of the best 690 hockey players in the world. On top of that, one could argue he’s in the elite, maybe top 5% of that group?

            The simple fact is this could be his last contract due to injury, personal struggle, whatever (let’s sincerely hope not). It could be his final chance to cash in at a high rate, for a considerable term (again, let’s hope not). It could very well set him and his family up for now and generations to come. That, is his livelihood.

          • cberg

            Don’t disagree with anything you said, like I said before. Its just the false reality of the entertainment world versus normal western society. But then again, western society reality is equally unreal to the majority of the world…..

            OK, back to hockey. JH, $7.25mm for 8 years. Mony, $6.25mm for 8 years.

      • Burnward

        I don’t think it is a matter of being greedy. Johnny has the rare ability to do things on the ice that some of the other players that he is being comparted to can’t do. I think it is safe to say that we all hold our collective breath when a player actually tags him…he may have a shorter career because of his size so while he is playing he deserves to be paid as an elite player in his sport.

  • Apologies to SmellOfVictory for incorrectly…correcting him. Gaudreau is eligible for a contract extension now. It’s only one year deals that have to wait until January 1st.

    I’ve made the change in the article. Doesn’t change the premise, however!

  • cberg

    Some common business sense needs to be looked at here given some of the numbers posters have mentioned…part of the benchmarking process includes looking at the Sequin/Benn contracts that are in the $5M range. They are not gap contracts but were signed after their ELC…I see Flames management landing on a 5 -6 year deal at around the $6M range for both Gaudreau and Monahan. If their respective camps want a longer term which is generally against Flames philosophy then the players will have to give in on the dollars…ie: 8 years $56M…

  • cberg

    Johnny will get Tarasenko money. And that will be considered a home town deal. Why? Compare VTs impact on the Blues that is a really good team already, they were winning before VT. Whereas with the Flames we weren’t winning before JG. Now we are. It’s not just JG but I would argue mostly JG, he is the playmaker and can win single handedly, not just the overtime. Less than VT would be insult. And you sign him for max 8 years, no argument. He is the cornerstone guy for the next 8 years, not Monny, not Gio, not Bennett. And that’s without a good goalie. SIGN HIM.