Are we getting closer to a Johnny Gaudreau signing?

The last time there was a significant update on the contract negotiations between the Calgary Flames and 23-year-old restricted free agent Johnny Gaudreau, it was that a deal wasn’t close and that the team and player were roughly $1.5 million apart.

But there has been a ton of chatter over the last two days which seems to point towards a looming reconciliation between the club and its leading scorer… and a shiny new contract.

First up? Gaudreau’s running buddy and center, Sean Monahan, on Sunday morning:

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, appearing on Sportsnet 960 The Fan on Monday following his article that quoted Gaudreau agent Lewis Gross stating that the Flames hadn’t talked to him in a month, ended his 20+ minute summary of the situation with a bit of a hopeful tone.

“I think Sean Monahan’s right. I think this gets done. I think both sides move and this gets done. I’m really curious, the one thing I’ve tried to ask people is what’s the number. What’s the real number here? And I can’t pin that down. I think Calgary wants it to start with a six, I think Gaudreau wants it to start with a seven, but at the end of the day, where is that? Is it 6.9? Is it 7.2? A lot of these I can look at this and say I kinda know what the numbers’ going to be. I’m not sure in this one where it is gonna be.”

Friedman also noted that he didn’t believe there was an appetite for a bridge deal.

TSN’s Darren Dreger, appearing on TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto earlier today:

“Inching closer to a deal, David. I’m not going to say that it’s
imminent. The timing of this is predictable, of course, it’s less about
the preseason and more about being in the lineup for the regular season.
This is a delicate one, it has been throughout this negotiation. I’m
sure Calgary would have preferred to get him at under seven million
dollars per year on an extension, a lengthy extension: I think it’s
going to be seven plus. But it sounds like it’s gonna happen within
days.”

The Flames have two preseason games remaining: Wednesday at home against Arizona and Thursday on the road in Vancouver. After that, they lock down their opening night roster on Tuesday and begin the 2016-17 season on Wednesday in Edmonton. Based on the chatter, it sure is beginning to sound like Gaudreau could be in their lineup when they hit the ice at Rogers Place.

    • Macindoc

      That would be a great deal for the Flames, but I think it will take a higher AAV to do 8 years. I do think an 8 year term will appeal to both sides (staggering contract expiries for the Flames, higher AAV for Gaudreau while still ending when he is in his prime). I think that an AAV around $7M would actually benefit both parties, allowing the Flames to recruit and keep better linemates for Gaudreau. Just imagine how much Gaudreau could get as a 31 year old UFA after 6 or 7 seasons of 50 goals/100 points (don’t think he will hit those numbers without an elite winger on the other side, and that’s not happening this year) and maybe a Stanley Cup ring; he could possibly get max term and max dollars to close out his career on the east coast (due to his less physical style of play, he could have a long career with a later than average production drop-off).

      • Greatsave

        Just imagine how much Gaudreau could get as a 31 year old UFA after 6 or 7 seasons of 50 goals/100 points (don’t think he will hit those numbers without an elite winger on the other side, and that’s not happening this year) and maybe a Stanley Cup ring; he could possibly get max term and max dollars to close out his career on the east coast.

        I’m all for long-term planning and optimism, but in general money-now is better than money-later. Especially guaranteed-money-now versus potential-money-later.

  • Craig

    I’m just glad it’s going to be done. He got a little break, got to miss out on training camp, spend some time at home.

    Excited for the start of the season.

    • Greg

      I hope he gets back for at least 1 preseason game. Conditioning should be fine thanks to World Cup, but there is some new-coach system learning to do still. Better in game -1 than game 1.

  • deantheraven

    I refuse to be drawn into this discuss-

    Damn… Ok, the real reason this deal hasn’t been done is the time zone difference. Every time Brad calls Murray, Edwards wakes up too grumpy to say, “ok, fine. 7.5 for 6.” One call after midnight Mountain Time, and it’s done.

    I know. I live in Germany and every morning I wake up saying, “maybe today’s the day”.
    Backburner, I’m down for 7.5. Now I’m going to bed!

    • SmellOfVictory

      Extra years only brings the AAV down for UFAs looking for a retirement contract and younger players who aren’t quite established. JG is just entering his prime and already has two extremely good (one of them elite) offensive seasons under his belt. At that age, with those results, extra years adds to the AAV because everyone expects that he’s going to continue to produce and likely improve.

  • Robhouli

    I say if it less than $7 mill, it is for 5 years. I believe the rule on UFA’s is over 27 years old or 7 years in the NHL. If we get him for 8 years, it will be closer to 8 mill than 7 mill.

    • Macindoc

      There is no player in the league making anywhere near 7M for RFA only years. 8M X 8 would be a massive overspend, equivalent to paying him about 11.3M for each of his UFA years. He can earn Kane/Toews money when he has won two or three Stanley Cups and a scoring title or two.

        • Macindoc

          Thanks for proving my point. Ekblad, a first overall pick and Calder Trophy winner who will be playing his 3rd FULL season on his ELC, signed an 8 year deal that included 4 RFA and 4 UFA years. His UFA years are easily worth at least 25% more than his RFA years, so for the sake of argument, let’s say 6.5M X 4 + 8.5M X 4 for 60M total. Gaudreau’s agent would be hard pressed to argue that his client would have a value comparable to Ekblad, it should objectively be 0.5M-1M/yr less than a major award-winning 1st overall pick defenseman who has already been recognized as a team leader on the ice, in the dressing room and in the community. BEST case scenario if you are Gaudreau’s agent making this comparison is that Gaudreau should get 6M X 5 + 8M X 3 = 54M total, AAV 6.75M, so as a comparable, Ekblad helps the Flames more than he helps Gaudreau.

          • FlamesFanOtherCity

            You do remember the voting for that year Ekblad won:

            Ekblad 1,147
            Stone 1,078
            Gaudreau 1,026

            Gaudreau was tied for 1st in points for the year among rookies. 1st overall only has a little to do with what they sign for after the ELC. MacKinnon was 1st overall, yet Monahan makes more than him now.

            Gaudreau had 50% more points than Ekblad in year one, and 100% more in year 2. Ekblad is a great player, but he didn’t lead the team in offense. Gaudreau had as much if not more impact for his team as Ekblad.

          • Baalzamon

            Gaudreau had 50% more points than Ekblad in year one, and 100% more in year 2. Ekblad is a great player, but he didn’t lead the team in offense. Gaudreau had as much if not more impact for his team as Ekblad.

            … you realize Ekblad is a defenseman, right? And he’s also three years younger than Gaudreau.

          • FlamesFanOtherCity

            Yup. But the difference between their impact to the team isn’t that big. A stud D-man and a top scoring winger have similar effect. Using the argument that a 1st overall and Calder winner deserves more is just opinion, not fact.

            I don’t think the two should be equal in salary, but no way one gets $8.5m while the other should be at best $6.75m.

          • Macindoc

            Who’s getting 8.5? I’m quoting a difference of 0.5M per RFA and UFA season, based on draft rank, overall recognition across the league, position, and the fact that Ekblad, at age 20, is already the 10th highest scoring defenseman in the league, in a position that is universally recognized to develop more slowly than forward positions. As high as Gaudreau’s ceiling is, I think that for his position, Ekblad’s is higher. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember any defenseman achieving what Ekblad has at such a young age since Al MacInnis, who was a perennial stud, a multiple award winner, a Stanley Cup winner, and a Hall of Famer. Plus, Ekblad’s contract covers more UFA years.

          • daryl

            Here’s the thing Florida has no state income tax so Ekblad is essentially making 15% more there and he is three years younger so Johnny has to make more this time around.

          • Macindoc

            But Johnny is earning in USD and spending in CAD, which is an even wider differential (though I recognize that prices differ across the border, but overall you still get more for your money if you are earning USD in Canada). Plus there is no “need” with regard to how much Johnny makes, it’s really more a matter of recognition of where he fits in the league relative to his peers. After all, Johnny stands to earn 100M over the course of his career; is he really going to notice an extra 4M? What Johnny will notice, however, is the quality of his teammates based on how much of the cap is available for his supporting cast, and whether that supporting cast is good enough to get him a Stanley Cup ring. And if the Flames can afford a top-line winger to play opposite him, he will have much better scoring stats and will eventually make much more money when he signs his next contract.

          • Macindoc

            How does Ekblad get 8? And evidence is needed to support your case that RFA and UFA years are equivalent; calling another argument “claptrap” is not evidence. Supply and demand always determine price. For 5 years, Gaudreau had only one buyer. And in the cap era, one 30 goal 80 point winger is worth exactly as much as another (entertainment value won’t help a cap team become a Cup winner), with the exception that one who can negotiate with more than one buyer is obviously going to get paid more, as is one who has repeatedly proven his ability.

            Would I prefer Johnny over any other 30 goal 80 point winger? Certainly. Would I pay him as much as a 40 goal scorer or an equivalent UFA? Certainly not, and neither would any GM in the league (well, maybe Benning, but that’s another discussion).

      • Greatsave

        Maybe that depends on how you’re calculating things.

        Stamkos signed his second deal in 2011, a 5-year deal for $7.5m AAV. It covered 4 RFA and 1 UFA years. What do you think each was worth?

        Considering he signed an $8.5m AAV deal afterwards, one could argue that the final, UFA year of his second deal was worth $8.5m. This means the first 4 years was worth $29m, or an average of $7.25m.

        Even if you take his actual 2016-17 salary of $9.5m as the price of his second deal’s final UFA year, that still leaves us an average of $7m per RFA year.

        And that’s without considering the cap ceiling was only $64.3m for 2011-12, the first season of his second deal.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Monahan will be seriously pissed if Johnny gets how much more per year?

    A bridge deal could be a disaster for the Flames if Johnny continues his upward spiral as I could see a team like the Rangers make a stupid contract offer to him as a RFA. No skin off their nose if the Flames match the overpayment and the Rangers can do it with relative impunity as they are a big market original six team and the Flames are an outpost on the vast Canadian prairies.

    Flames have got to get a term of at least 6 years to maximize their investment in him.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    This does seem encouraging. I will be disappointed if the Flames stayed in the 6 million range. I don’t see it being for 7 years since the next contract will come up again at the sam time as Monny’s. My guess is 8 years at 7.25 million. Flames don’t go for a 6 year deal. Possible 5 yrs at 6.25 million.

  • The Fall

    The NHL, owners and GMs have a lot riding on this contract. Johnny will likely sign the biggest RFA contract (for his status) ever.

    Making history has never been so easy.

  • Newbietwo

    What cracks me up is the let’s pay lots now to save some during UFA years.. Literally every GM in the league screw themselves and presses the contract prices higher because they all use this argument yet if they all were more firm that wouldn’t be the case.. This is a cap crunch league and if a player wants $10 million at age 28 I say good luck with that because how often and how many teams can actually do that and again not mess up their whole roster and push down their high valued prospects.. It’s lethargic that this happens literally every year.. Furthermore you don’t build. Winning team for 15 years it won’t work because you will if you win constantly run out of money and out of players look at Chicago and the answer isn’t to take 25% of your total salary and hand it to two guys if you need to walk on one you walk..

  • RKD

    At this point I don’t care if Johnny Gaudreau’s AAV is $7.1, $7.2, $7.3, etc, just sign the contract put on your Flames jersey and be on the ice for game 1.

  • VoRaCS

    I wonder how many more points Johnny would have had in his rookie season if there wasn’t so much initial doubt in his ability to play at this level by management and the unwarranted love for Setoguchi and a few undeserving others who played more minutes than him for quite a stretch—often in better offensive situations, zone starts, power play, etc.

    • Macindoc

      Johnny may have scored a few more points than he did, but on a Flames team that was very thin up front, he had much more opportunity than Tarasenko, who played with 3rd line teammates and got 3rd line minutes in his 1st year, and was utilized more as a 2nd line player in his 2nd year, due to the much greater depth of the Blues up front. Anyway, if Johnny had scored as many points in his rookie season as he did in his 2nd season, that would suggest that he has already hit his ceiling due to his extra years of development post-draft, in which case more than 7M/yr would be a huge overspend at any term.

      But I agree with you that last season, Hartley often used “trusted” marginal veterans where he could have better utilized younger players on a team that was supposed to be rebuilding (I give him a free pass for the previous season, because the overachieving Flames were looking at the possibility of their first post-season in years). I suspect that along with his system that other teams learned to take advantage of, this is largely why the Coach of the Year found himself unemployed one year later.

      Now just so everyone knows, I am a huge Johnny fan, but I hope he takes the long view of his career into account in these negotiations, and that Treliving takes the long view of the team’s ability to make future necessary signings (Bennett, Tkachuk, goaltenders, and someone who can actually play a respectable starboard side on Johnny’s line). Overspending now helps nobody except Johnny’s agent.

  • Macindoc

    Let’s look at this another way. The maximum Johnny could sign for would be 71.4*0.2=14.28M. You get paid for what you have done and for what a team believes you have the potential to do, so that kind of money only gets paid to a generational player with proven success (multiple Cups and major awards/scoring titles), and widely recognized as the greatest player of their generation (think Gretzky, Mario Lemiux, and perhaps McDavid will be the “next one” if he can achieve what they did). The next tier would be comprised of elite players with multiple Cups and multiple major awards/scoring titles (think Toews). If they signed today, they might sign for 10% less than a generational player, maybe 12.85M. The next tier would be Elite players with a lesser resume, maybe only a single Cup and a major award. These players would likely be perennially in the top 5 forwards or top 5 defensemen in scoring, and would likely be signed for about 10% less than a multiple Cup winner, or about 11.57M. Then you have your players who have won a few major awards +/- a Cup and have been top 5 in scoring once or twice. These would likely be offered 10% less than the perennial top scorers/Cup winners, or about 10.41M. Then you have players who have either won a major award or been top 5 in scoring at least once. Once again, I propose that they could expect to earn about 10% less than the previous tier, or about 9.37M.

    Now let’s account for position. Generally speaking, the position that having elite players in usually gives a team the best chance at winning a Cup is centre, and Centres have more responsibilities, are more difficult to find and develop, and make more money than wingers. So let’s knock another 10% off that 9.37M, to bring it to 8.43M, which is what I propose an elite winger who has finished top 5 in scoring would likely make on the open market (and is quite close to the 8.5M that I suspect Tarasenko was paid for his UFA years, but let’s not confuse that with his 7.5M AAV, which was for an equal number of UFA and RFA years). I am generously adding Gaudreau to this group, which may in itself be an overspend.

    Now discount that by 25% for RFA years, since a player has limited ability (or in Johnny’s case, no ability) to shop himself around to get the best deal, and it seems to be approximately how much teams “overpay” at the opening of free agency. That leaves 6.32M for RFA years.

    So if you added it all together, you would get 6.32*5 + 8.43*3 = 56.89M for 8 years, AAV 7.11M. That’s not even taking into account Johnny’s lack of leverage from not having arbitration rights or offer sheet eligibility.

    Now I know that these tiers and the dollar differences between them are quite arbitrary, but if anything, these tiers seem to overestimate how much players on each could expect to be offered (see Kane, Towes, Crosby, and MacKinnon for examples), and it is interesting how closely this model would have been to predicting Tarasenko’s contract (8.43*.75*4 +8.43*4=59.01M, and he had arbitration rights, offer sheet eligibility and an easy path to the KHL).

    No matter how you look at it, an 8 year deal between 7M and 7.25M seems to be fair for both the player and the team, and as I mentioned before, may be best for the player long-term due to the ability to better showcase himself prior to his first fully UFA contract, which will be his biggest payday in terms of AAV.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    He may sign 7.3 for 8 years but if he is looking for more money he only signs for 5 years and hits the Ufa market or resigns in Calgary for 9m if he stays a top ten player.

    • FireScorpion

      Well look who’s changed his tune. Thought he wanted out and didn’t want to be in Calgary? Lol
      You’ve been wrong on the Hamilton, Brodie, Giordano signings..You’ll be wrong again now

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        I never said he wanted out. I said he probably wants to hit free agency sooner rather than later as he would be able to increase his yearly salary if he continues to play how he did last season.
        If he has a couple of really good seasons he could probably fetch 8.5 or 9ml at that time.
        Makes sense.

        • FireScorpion

          Exactly, you changed your tune like I said.
          Years and years of Johnny locked up to dazzle and delight. I am looking forward to the day my phone lights up with a notification saying Calgary Flames Sign Johnny F_#$£*# Hockey

  • Backburner

    Just thought I would share this quote from Conroy:

    “Brad and Lewis and Johnny are working through the contract right now,” Conroy told Flames TV. “Is it done as quick as we’d all like? No, it’s not. But you know what? It’s positive. Right now we’re going to do something here, hopefully in the next few days and in the week to come, and we’ll get something done and Johnny will be back in Calgary.

    “Hopefully we can come to some common ground soon and get him where he belongs in Calgary.”

    Sounds promising…

    • Greatsave

      I highly doubt 4 years. Expiry coincides with Brodie’s. Both will command raises on their next deal.

      That said, hopefully going forward the Flames leave themselves with plenty of flexibility to hand out raises. The only contracts on the books that go beyond 4 years are Monahan, Giordano, and Hamilton, so it all depends on what new signings are made from here on.

      I used to think 3 years might be a possible bridge deal length, but now that I consider the possibility of an offer-sheet, that probably goes out the window. Flames have $32m+ on the books after 3 years, and I don’t think they could risk Gaudreau being offer-sheeted at say $10m?

      Still think it’s more likely to be 6 or 8 years. 6 more likely than 8. Expires with Giordano’s contract, which the Flames will probably prefer for negotiation reasons (more than with Brodie’s, Hamilton’s, or Monahan’s anyway); expires at age 29, which Gaudreau will probably prefer (before the inevitable decline sets in).

      • Hockeyfan

        i don’t think JG wants to sign long term right now. 4 years would bring him to UFA, at which point Flames can decide where and if he fits. I still have reservations about his durability over a long term deal.

        • piscera.infada

          Five years brings him to unrestricted free agency, not four.

          i don’t think JG wants to sign long term right now.

          Based on what exactly? If the contract was going to be a two or three year deal, why would there be such a stalemate? There wouldn’t. The longer negotiation leads me to believe that the Flames are being cautious with their long-term cap planning. That’s why this negotiation has taken so long. It’s significantly easier to give Gaudreau $6-ish million for 2 years, than to haggle over $1-ish million either way over a 7 or 8 year term.

          Moreover, it makes absolutely zero sense for the Flames to sign him to his first year of UFA status–literally none (this can’t be stressed enough). If anything, this would be the hill to die on for Treliving and company. Frankly, if the Flames weren’t “sold” on where Gaudreau fits, they’re better off signing him to three or four years and then trading him for a haul if they don’t want him (which is ludicrous to suggest).

          I still have reservations about his durability over a long term deal.

          Again, based on what? There is no evidence to suggest that a smaller player is more likely to be significantly injured than any other player.

          • Baalzamon

            Again, based on what? There is no evidence to suggest that a smaller player is more likely to be significantly injured than any other player.

            There’s also the fact that Gaudreau, specifically, has no injury history to speak of. He missed time to injury for literally the first time IN HIS LIFE last season. And it was like two games.

          • Greatsave

            Moreover, it makes absolutely zero sense for the Flames to sign him to his first year of UFA status–literally none (this can’t be stressed enough).

            Another reason why 6 years makes sense to me. Many elite players have signed second deals that ate up one UFA year (Stamkos, Crosby, Toews, Kane), and I can see Gaudreau doing the same.

        • Baalzamon

          i don’t think JG wants to sign long term right now.

          Aside from what piscera.infada said, we’ve had numerous reports from guys like Eliotte Friedman and Bob MacKenzie that Gaudreau and the Flames are both looking to sign long term.

        • Greatsave

          4 years would bring him to UFA, at which point Flames can decide where and if he fits.

          This statement itself is illogical. If the Flames let him get to UFA, they’ve lost all ability to “decide where and if he fits”.