At long last, it’s over.
After qualifying just four restricted free agents back in June – over three months ago – all four of them have been signed.
Johnny Gaudreau has his second contract with the Flames. It’s for six years, and it’s worth an annual average value of $6.75 million: Mark Giordano’s contract to a tee.
It is, unequivocally, a total steal.
— Johnny Gaudreau (@johngaudreau03) October 10, 2016
Oh my god somebody please teach Johnny the difference between “resign” and “re-sign”, that’s not at all horrifying.
Gaudreau is coming off of his sophomore season in the NHL – one that saw him score 30 goals and 78 points in 79 games. It’s a buildup from his rookie season, in which he scored 24 goals and 60 points in 80 games.
Which is, in turn, a buildup from his junior year of college, in which he scored 80 points in 40 games, which is a buildup from his time as a sophomore, in which he scored 51 points in 35 games, which is a buildup from his time as a freshman, in which he scored 44 points in 44 games, which is a buildup from his draft year in the USHL, during which he scored 72 points in 60 games…
And it somehow took until the 104th pick for someone to take him.
The point here is: all Gaudreau has done, every single year of his hockey playing career, dating back to at least 2005-06, is improve, and dramatically, at that. We aren’t even entirely sure what his ceiling is, because he has never hit anything resembling one.
In his rookie season with the Flames, he was the team’s second-highest scorer. In his second season, he became the highest scorer by 15 points, and that was while playing alongside an offensively talented sixth overall draft pick. He’s already one of the most electrifying scorers in the game, he’s pretty much the player to watch when it comes to 3-on-3 overtime, and he’s extremely durable, to boot; he’s missed literally two (meaningless) games in his career due to injury, and that’s it.
It took him two seasons to be a top-10 scorer in the NHL. At least 80 points for him this season isn’t out of the question; it’s probably something you can bet on. Bovada went ahead and gave him 33/1 odds to win the Art Ross and 40/1 odds to win the Hart, because why not?
He’s 10th in scoring amongst his draft class, and everyone above him has played 50-200 more games than he has. Sean Couturier has played 190 more games than Gaudreau. He’s scored 14 more points than he has. He’s going to be passed. Gabriel Landeskog has the most points out of the entire 2011 draft class: 103 more than Gaudreau in 196 more games played. Gaudreau is 17 points off from being a career point per game player. And he wasn’t taken until 104th overall, because at the time of his draft he was listed as 5’6″ and 137 lbs. at the time.
The kid whose size prompted unnecessary questions every time he went up a level in competition has earned a $40.5 million contract, and he’s probably going to be worth more than that as early as this season. He’s well on his way to already becoming the Flames’ next franchise player.
The five players who managed to score more points than Gaudreau in 2015-16 have cap hits of $10.5 million, $5.25 million (to be bumped up to $9.5 million after this season), $8.7 million, $6.75 million, and $6.5 million. Gaudreau is younger than all of them, and he’s just getting started.
In Calgary. Soon we’ll get to see what he can do in new systems, under a new coach, as he continues to get better because this is only his third year in the NHL and the team around him is growing, too.
It’s going to be a fun six years. That buys up one year of free agency for Gaudreau, so his next contract is probably going to be massive if he fulfills his projections. But that’s a while from now – and for now, the times are extremely good.