Johnny Gaudreau: Pay the man


It’s the final day of September and Johnny Gaudreau still doesn’t have a contract. I don’t think anyone thought this negotiation would drag on as long as it has and it’s turned into the biggest story of training camp. It’s time to get this deal done in some form or another; the longer this lasts, the more negative it gets for both sides. Two things worry me most if this drags on much longer.

It doesn’t sound like this negotiation has gotten contentious, but that doesn’t really matter at this point. Whether things are perfectly amicable or not, there’s nothing really positive that can come from waiting much longer. And it doesn’t really matter who you believe should take the brunt of the blame here; both sides are at risk of being affected in a negative fashion.

On the ice

I don’t think a prolonged contract holdout will have any long term implications for Gaudreau because he’s too good a player. In the short term, however, I certainly worry how this whole situation could mess with the start of his season, specifically if this stretches out another week or more.

The Flames have a new coach and thus new systems and details. Gaudreau has already missed a week of training camp which means a week of getting up to speed on whatever the new nuances are under Glen Gulutzan. That’s not an impossible hurdle to overcome but it’s also not an ideal circumstance to have.

The fact Gaudreau played at the World Cup of Hockey certainly helps mitigate any rust he might have, but that has a limit too. Gaudreau’s last game with Team North America was more than a week ago, so at least one preseason game with the Flames would have been ideal. Calgary’s preseason schedule is done in less than a week so it becomes less likely he’ll get into one every passing day.

All of this speaks to my worry he won’t start the season at quite the level he or the team would like. This is an important season for the Flames as they continue in their rebuild, especially after the frustration of last season. Calgary needs to take a step forward this season and if Gaudreau is still adjusting early in the season their chances of doing that take a hit.

There’s no guarantee any of this would come to pass, even if Gaudreau ends up missing regular season games. Gaudreau is a good enough player he might be able to jump right back in regardless of a training camp or not. The point is, though, the chance of messing with the start of his season exists and avoiding the situation altogether is still the way to go.

Off the ice

Will a continued contract stalemate put a strain on Gaudreau’s relationship with the team going forward? None of us know the answer to that question, but it’s a fair one to ask. If Gaudreau signs a long-term deal, well, those worries will probably be extinguished. A short-term pact would make me a little more nervous, though.

For whatever reason, I can’t get Ryan O’Reilly’s three-year saga in Colorado out of my head. If you remember, O’Reilly was unsigned well into the shortened 2013 season before Calgary’s offer sheet forced the Avalanche to match and sign him to a two-year deal. Another one-year contract followed that and then he was traded to Buffalo as an RFA last summer. The Flames need to avoid a situation like that at all costs.

I don’t know if Calgary’s reported insistence of keeping Gaudreau’s cap number under Mark Giordano’s $6.75 million would rub the former the wrong way. Maybe Gaudreau is insulted the team doesn’t believe he’s worth what the market suggests. Then again, maybe not; there’s just as good a chance Gaudreau is looking at this as all business and nothing else. But if you’re the Flames, why open yourself up to that risk if you don’t have to?


Pike wrote a good story earlier this week on Calgary’s cap situation as it relates to Gaudreau, while I delved into what’s taking this thing so long late last month. Someone has to budge because this deal needs to get done. Playing chicken is great, as is sticking to your principles, but at some point someone is going to have to blink.

On the team side, I believe an internal cap related to Giordano’s contract is unrealistic. The market suggests Gaudreau is worth in excess of $7 million on a long term deal regardless of Calgary’s adherence to principle. I’d love to buy a $1 million house for $475,000, but if the market says otherwise, that’s not going to happen.

As I laid out in the article I linked to above, a short-term deal is not ideal for the Flames; unfortunately, that’s the only way I see them getting Gaudreau’s cap hit under their internal ceiling. Right now, though, the market suggests a long term deal for Gaudreau should pay him between $7 and $7.5 million per season which is better than $9.5 million three years down the road.

As for the Gaudreau camp, they need to dial back their demands, too. As much as I love the player, to be asking more than $8 million with just two seasons under his belt doesn’t pass the smell test, either. The guy is a hell of a player, but money like that probably isn’t warranted.

I don’t know who’s going to blink first because both teams seem like they’re pretty set in to their foxholes. Whoever moves off their stance first, though, shouldn’t be viewed as the “loser” in this battle. Ending this standoff now is best for all parties involved and I can assure you Flames fans don’t care who makes the first move, as long as #13 gets signed in short order.

  • KACaribou

    Based on all speculation and zero facts regarding this negotiation, everything written is nonsense. There will only ultimately be two losers if this negotiation continues into the season: 1) the fans. 2) The coach.

  • redhot1

    Negotiating tactic or not, but the whole “Giordano should be our highest paid player” argument is complete garbage, and everyone and their mother can see that Gaudreau is worth more than that.

    Kind of concerning if Treliving and co actually think that is something even worth mentioning in a contract negotiation like this.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      This whole negotiation seems like a bad episode of “Dragon’s Den”. Johnny and his agent come on the stage with an investment opportunity but the panel looks at the product and believes the product is too small, and should not cost more than some established products. Questions arise as to ” how will this product hold up away from home and in a hostile environment.

      Johnny and his agent insists that in this case smaller is better and worth the investment. They ensure the Dragons that there is no other product quite like this. The panel goes on to low-ball Johnny convinced he has no “Power” and no other options if he wants his product to hit the marketplace. Johnny believing other investors will see value in his product prepares to leave.

      However, just as Johnny and his agent are about to exit the stage the panelists reconvene wondering if the product could really be that good and decide it is worth the investment. The savvy Panelists who are known for their astute and sometimes ruthless negotiating have learned a valuable lesson. Never associate “not having any Power with not having any leverage”

      • Derzie

        Dragon’s Den is a show about greedy people treating people like enemies or figuring out ways to use them for their own benefit. That is how the Flames are treating this. Money and winning the standoff are the most important things to them. Sure athletes are WAY overpaid but at this point it reeks of ego. How do you think Brodie feels? He is getting fleeced yet his contract is held up as ‘team friendly’. That is code for ‘screwed player’. The best contracts are the fair ones. If you have to fleece your employees (players) to do your job, you don’t deserve to win.

  • redhot1

    And is it really worth nickle and diming a player around a million bucks who is literally becoming the face of the franchise and the city? If Treliving and co bungle this and end up signing him to anything shorter than 6 or 7 years, I’ll be seriously pissed.

    Not to mention that fact that if the Flames have postseason aspirations, its important to have a good start. And without Gaudreau (ie, our whole offense up front), that makes things even harder.

  • Just.Visiting

    Nice article, Pat.

    Each of us negotiates many times over the course of the day, whether we realize it or not.

    On a very simple basis, there are two types of negotiations.

    When I negotiate for a new or used car or at a garage sale, I don’t have anything invested in the relationship. I will negotiate fairly hard to optimize the outcome for myself. And I have no particular hesitation to walk away if I’m at the point at which I’m indifferent as to whether I make the deal.

    When, on the other hand, I negotiate in the context of an ongoing relationship in my work or with my friends or family (yes, there are negotiations there, whether we think of them that way or not), the choices I make in how I “negotiate” have ongoing consequences that extend well beyond the near-term outcome.

    This is the second type of negotiation, and all of the bluster in the world is not going to change that.

    It is naive to believe that there’s no ongoing baggage that impacts the relationship adversely just because the two parties have ultimately agreed on an outcome.

    The Flames need to be very cautious that they do not conduct themselves in a way in which the JG camp feels at all insulted or bullied relative to the marketplace. Similarly, the JG camp must not conduct themselves in a way in which they are potentially hurting the team’s ability to compete by using the full leverage of his profile and popularity to force the team into a deal the team believes is inappropriate (i.e., missing a few games and then a transition back for a few games).

    Something around $7.5MM with term seems to be where this will likely end up. Life in the longer term is a lot simpler for everyone if everyone accepts that and the discussions go in that direction soon.

      • Just.Visiting

        I won’t ask what the first thing to go is…

        But thank goodness for big screen tvs and a much more exciting hockey team than used to be the case! LOL

    • supra steve

      For me, when I have reached the point that I am making an offer (after a lot of research and tire kicking), I want THAT particular car and I have a good idea of what it’s worth to me. Usually the seller is equally motivated to move his car and a fair compromise in price is quickly reached. But, I will not just pay the asking price, there has to be some give in the price. If there is no price flexibility on the part of the seller, and I know he is asking too much, then it’s time for me to move on and continue looking at other options.

      Not sure where in this process Tre is at.

  • reidja

    This issue makes it hard to talk about the team right now. It’s certainly killing my enthusiasm and worse, gives oiler fans a walk off homer in the usual preseason tete a tete.

  • Nugent-Bagkins93

    Agree on all accounts Pat. Another major concern is what impact a distraction like this might have on the rest of the team? and will it in turn impact our start to the season? I’d hate for this to become a situation like last year where we thought a 3 goalie competition to start the year was a great idea.

  • Backburner

    I had a dream about this..

    They announce it last minute, opening night before the puck drops…

    Johnny descends down from the rafters with fire balls while they play “Welcome to the Jungle!”



    Ok, it’s Friday and I’m bored.. Sign him Brad!

  • KACaribou

    One thing to take note of while FN speculates about what Johnny Hockey is worth compared to other stars in the league:

    His skill level has grown every year, and at this year’s World Championships I can’t think of one young star on Team NA who appeared to be more dynamic, with more talent, and created more excitement than Johnny Gaudreau.

    Come to think of it, I can only think of one player on Team Canada who had a greater impact in this way.

    • piscera.infada

      I wasn’t aware there was a definite demarcation between the value of a UFA and an RFA contract. Or, is it an arbitrary value you’ve made up off the top of your head?

        • Just.Visiting

          Actually, one can negotiate any way they want.

          The status gives the Flames the choice to respond differently, should they choose to want to negotiate that way.

          In other words, everyone involved in this has to remember that choices have consequences and to be really careful in how they present themselves.

    • Parallex

      Huh? If he was looking for a “UFA” contract he’d probably be looking for 10M-11M per.

      Example: Patrick Kane got a contract worth 11.09% of the cap on his 2nd deal. An equivalent amount today is 8.2M. His 3rd contract composed entirely of what would have been UFA years was 10.5M (15.22% of the cap). In today’s $$ 11.26M.

      And that’s what he signed for… so you can rightly assume that the positions prior to inking the deal were different.

    • KACaribou

      You’re not new here. Two things you never… ever… do here is criticize the great Brad Treliving, or the incredible Dougie Hamilton. Feel the wrath.

  • Slowmo

    Ok heres the thing Coach of N/A did every thing he could to give McyD the rains to be the point getter of that squad so all that did was make it harder for the true #1 line to get momentum and winn all games. We all know who the true #1 line was right? It wasn’r McyD line although with Matthews they got a couple of points but holding back JH line they shorted them selves a few more points which could have resulted in wins. Of course the coach finally realized that at the end but by then to late. So yes if we keep JH and sign him there will be a ton of Oilers fans heading for the pubs to drowned there sorrows. Only down fall is we will probably trade JH to Philly for there top D Shayne Gostisbehere and Wayne Simmonds.

    We can us a right winger and we will also ask for a few first rounders maybe a prospect or 2. I know ppl are going to say im crazy well perhaps your right but if we can’t come to terms with him then give him what he wants to go to Philly. I’m sure it is his goal in the future that is I think the whole problem term he wants to hit Philly while still fairly young. So give him what he wants and make Philly pay through the nose im sure they will he will be the crowed please’r they want which will bring in the croweds for yrs to come and give us the cup that much sooner.

    • Armchair genius

      Johnny H, RNH,and Mackinnon were gifted the second pairing competition! Know a little about hockey before flapping your lips. That second line was amazing don’t get me wrong, but there was totally different line matching by the other teams. Also, if memory serves correct, I don’t remember anyone talking about how Little Johnny drives the play and creates opportunity for all his teammates. I guess it doesnt matter because he probably realizes that if he holds out long enough on his contract he will get to play with McDavid and be able to pad his stats for the rest of his career.

      • Willi P

        Your hero Collar McBroken wasn’t even the best Oiler player on Team North America during the Tourney. He has played a half of an NHL season and still has a lot to learn and prove. Looks like you have a lot to learn about hockey before flapping your lips.

  • PrairieStew

    I think if you break it down year by year you can come up with what is fair. This year he has no arbitration rights and no one can offer sheet him. The Flames could offer a one year deal at 10% over what he made last year, so with bonuses about $3.1 M and then take their chances with arbitration,offer sheets next year. 4 years as an RFA should be around the $7.5 M per and 3 years as UFA at $11m per year.

    This brings us to 8 years and $66 m or roughly $8.25. Yes – he has to be paid more on average than Gio if you go 8 years. Reduce is to 7, I’d take the $11 off and come up with $55 over 7 which is 7.85 per, and $44 for 6 which is still $7.33. The only way to get him under Gio’s average is to be on the same term as Gio and not buy up any UFA years, . I know people are not going to be happy about a shorter term, that there is risk that he will demand even more in 5 years. I say the risk is probably higher the other way – that at 28 Johnny’s best years are behind him, and while he still may be a top line forward, will he give $11 m of value regardless of where the cap is at that point.

  • Miki

    My thoughts on JG is, if he wanted to stay in Calgary he would have signed it already. I am big fan of Calgary Flames and I am hopping that I am wrong about this.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I sort of think along those lines as well. If Johnny is asking 8 million then it could be his way of asking to move without saying that he wants to move. There seems to be two primary ways to leave an organization, directly such as asking for a trade ((ie. Jacob Trouba) or indirectly by demanding what is viewed as unreasonable terms and conditions.

      If the Flames agreed to his demands, would anything hold him back from signing? Would he be happy? The longer Johnny is away from Calgary the easier it will be to leave. Johnny says he loves Calgary, he wants a long term deal, he would accept a matching contract to Monny, and that he would like to play with Monny for several years…yet he is not showing it.

      I am starting to believe that if Johnny had a choice to pick any NHL team, like he did coming out of college( if he did not sign) he would not make the same choice. I can see how Tree and the fans would feel betrayed since it was Calgary that took a chance on Johnny long before other teams would and given him everything a young player could ask. But perhaps he feels his debt is paid in full.
      Perhaps no amount of money is ever going to make Johnny feel like Calgary is home.

      It seems like Johnny could be looking for an out without coming across as the bad guy. Tree may have known this for awhile but is waiting for the right time to rip the scab off. For all we know, Tree has agreed to everything but Johnny’s demands continue to change making negotiations far more difficult.

      Just one more conspiracy theory to ponder.

  • Rockmorton65

    It’s funny. I check FN a couple of times throughout the day. It’s part anticipation and part dread. I’m either expecting,

    “Report: Flames sign Gaudreau to…”


    “Report: Flames trade Gaudreau to…”

  • jakethesnail

    Fans cannot drive the negotiations. When it is settled one or the other we will know. As most of you say or think, an amicable agreement is what is needed. We really shouldn’t care what the dollars are, as long as the term is there.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Screw with Johnny at your peril, Flames.

    Use all the leverage you have to get the best possible deal for the team, but be aware that Johnny may have a long memory and when he is holding better cards, it could be Calgary bye-bye.

    Simple rule in play here is that if a player is on an entry-level contract and he finishes in the top 10 in scoring while playing on one of the worst clubs in the league, pay him what he asks because he’s worth it.

    Two other points made by others are worth mentioning here. The kid is the face of the franchise, so make a long-term commitment to him and promote the heck out of him as a way of building your brand. Second, to say his contract must be less than Giordano’s is insane. What is the logic that dictates Gio needs to be the highest paid player on the team?

    One thinks that a bad July 1st FA signing is all that separates Johnny and the Flames from making a long-term commitment. Why not save the cash on Canada Day and spend it where it really belongs.

    Finally, as for Johnny not scoring on the road, once he figures out that ding-dong, the kid could be fighting with Kane and Benn for the overall scoring lead.

  • RKD

    Losing Gaudreau at the start of the season will be a big blow, who is going to score goals and create the offense? The Flames need guys who can score goals and guys who can make plays. Johnny does both, giving him $7.5-$8 in years down the road will make BT look like a genius. A few more strong seasons or better will have the rest of the league in envy. Underpay Gaudreau now and/or give him a bridge deal and guess what? Old Johnny boy ain’t asking for $8 million next time around. No siree Bob, Gaudreau will make the Flames pay through the nose and start at double digits. Forget the Kane comparisons and winning 3 Cups then getting big money. The Flames are nowhere near close to how the Blackhawks were built.

  • BobB

    I agree that Gaudreau is the Flames most exciting player, most talented and likely will become the face of the franchise.

    However, I disagree with the sentiments of back up the Brinks truck and “Pay the Man” [big money].

    -He has played just two years. When considering sample size, most comparables (Kane, Toews etc) played three years before their next contract kicked in. 33% more hockey to be certain what you’ve got.

    -Kane (likely Gaudreau’s best comparable) was a .94ppg player after 244games and 3 years in the NHL. His third (09/10) season he was a 1.07ppg player while shooting just 11.5% (lower than his career avg.)

    -Gaudreau after two seasons is a .89ppg and was .99last year, BUT he shot 13.8% – although not impossible to maintain & lower than year 1, is a range that is as likely or more to trend down than up.

    -Lastly, whether or not you agree that these factors favor Kane in a comparable (you’d feel more confident paying him more than Gaudreau at the time – I would) we can see that Kane’s and Toews cap hits in their second contract in 2010/11 was just 66% the value of the highest at that time – Ovechkin 9.5mil.

    Fast forward to today, and it’s Kane and Toews who have the highest cap hits this year – at 10.5mil. Two of likely the best, in not in some ways the best two players in the NHL. Gaudreau is not yet one of those players. .66% of their cap hit would be 6.93million.

    6.93million for a smaller, more-limited toolbox (physicality/size) player entering into his third NHL season when compared to best of his NHL peers (Kane) who also plays often with a 1A (Toews/Monahan), I think is very fair.

    I don’t think Gaudreau should get more than 7 million and if Treliving is fighting for a value near that and that is what is taking time. Then he’s doing his job well. IMHO.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    Can someone tell me why the Flames haven’t got rid of Stajan or Engelland to clear cap space? They should have both been bought out when the chance was given. They both provide no upside at all anymore.

  • Theo4HoF

    The Flames need money to pay their other good players too. Keep playing hard ball BT. I bet Gaudreau won’t be able to stand watching games and he will sign for less. He only deserves a little bit more than Monahan IMO because Monahan’s point totals are similar and he plays a more premium position than Gaudreau.

    • piscera.infada

      Just for my own interest’s sake: if Monahan was not playing with Gaudreau, do you think his point totals would be more, less, or the same? Who do you think drives the bus on that “pairing”?

  • icedawg_42

    If you can buy up UFA years and maximize the term on his contract, why not pay him 8M? That number isn’t going to be at the very top of the NHL in 5 years.

  • Cheeky

    The sky is not falling…Johnny Hockey will still be alive in Calgary for years to come, it’s just a matter of when and what (remember all the hype when he decided to play his last year in college – look how that turned out. He’s not disgruntled ala Trouba or Drouin, all indicated he likes Calgary and wants to win here so rumours he’s asking for short term/too much to force a trade home are false and ridiculous.). I’m sure the hang up is JG’s agent wants him to be an UFA before he hits 30, Calgary wants him for the max 8 yrs. Now being the wage depending on term: longer the term = higher the wage, shorter the term = lower the wage. They will sort something out in the end, I’m thinking something around 7 yrs – $50 mil is reasonable for both sides. 6 yrs is closer to Gio’s contract, 8 yrs closer to Tarasenko’s… All is fine, Johnny will be back in a Flaming C before we know it, leading Calgary to the playoffs while competing for the Art Ross…