As far as the Calgary Flames are concerned, the World Cup of Hockey is over.
Team Czech Republic and Michael Frolik are done, as are Team Finland and Jyrki Jokipakka (and training camp invite Lauri Korpikoski, for that matter). Team Sweden has moved on to the knockout rounds, but with Mikael Backlund out with a concussion, he isn’t playing, either.
And neither is Team North America. A loss to Russia during round robin play ultimately sealed their fates, and what was once one of the more exciting teams to watch as of late is no more.
That means Johnny Gaudreau is, for the time being, essentially without a team.
At least until he gets a contract signed.
Now we play the waiting game
We’re in the final stretch of waiting for Gaudreau to re-sign.
Gaudreau said he didn’t want to talk contract while he was playing in the World Cup. That doesn’t necessarily mean there was no progression on it – Gaudreau and his agent are two different people – but if he wasn’t going to talk, he certainly wasn’t about to sign anything.
That’s no longer an issue.
With Freddie Hamilton having finally re-signed, Gaudreau is the lone loose end left for the Flames. Training camp is time for Glen Gulutzan to get to know his players and start to get a sense of his lineup; Brad Treliving’s responsibilities aren’t quite as pronounced when players take to the ice again.
He’ll have other things to look after – potentially signing additional contracts, whether they be of the PTO or Jakub Nakladal variety (will we ever stop talking about him? Probably not) – and managing the cap in order to be compliant for the season opener (Sam Bennett getting sent down to the AHL so the Flames can count Ladislav Smid’s cap hit is going to be fun for the uninitiated).
But priority number one remains Gaudreau. And now, there are no more distractions.
The Flames start the season on Oct. 12. That’s about two and a half weeks away.
The waiting game sucks, let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos
As long as Gaudreau doesn’t have a contract, he can’t participate in training camp. He doesn’t have insurance. The NHL/NHLPA reportedly paid his insurance during the World Cup; they aren’t going to pay it for Flames training camp.
Recall that Jarome Iginla was once a training camp holdout, and he paid his own insurance in order to participate.
That’s probably not going to happen with Gaudreau, but at least it doesn’t really matter that much.
Training camp is for getting players back up to speed. Gaudreau has just played a handful of exhibition games, plus three round robin games in a best-on-best tournament at the World Cup. He scored two goals and two assists over the three games – that’s tied with Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Jonathan Toews for the most in the round robin. His legs are probably back under him by now.
And it’s not like he has to get to know the players on the Flames and build chemistry with them. He’s not new to the team.
If Gaudreau ends up holding out through preseason games, there’s actually a bit of a silver lining to it: there’s less chance of an injury.
Remember when T.J. Brodie got hurt in the Flames’ first preseason game, and that injury destroyed pretty much the Flames’ entire October? Gaudreau has played just about his entire career without getting hurt, but preseason can get flukey in its essential meaninglessness. Playing fewer meaningless games won’t be a bad thing for him at all.