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Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Friedman says changes abound for Flames if they don’t finish strong

The Calgary Flames may be in for changes at this offseason if they don’t finish the season strong, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Wednesday.

In his regular 31 thoughts column, Friedman specifically mentioned Johnny Gaudreau and how he is on pace for just 44 even-strength points this season.

Was in Calgary last week for an upcoming feature. Speaking of vibes, there is an odd one around the Flames. It’s not something I heard from GM Brad Treliving, but there certainly is a sense changes are coming if they don’t finish strong. They’re really happy with younger players who’ve driven the bus (Rasmus Andersson, Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane) but not as thrilled with some of their top dogs. The most surprising thing is Johnny Gaudreau on pace for just 44 even-strength points. The winger is not a power-play phenomenon. He had 132 the past two seasons, behind only Connor McDavid (165), Nikita Kucherov (144) and Patrick Kane (134). That would be Gaudreau’s lowest since his rookie season. They need him at his best.

This isn’t the first time he has alluded to something like this. In November, Friedman said the Flames were getting impatient and may look to “shake something up a bit.”

While there was no big shakeup then, the Flames did flip Michael Frolik to the Buffalo Sabres this past week.

Having name-dropped Gaudreau is no big surprise. The forward has been the biggest disappointment of the season for the Flames.

His even-strength performance, as Friedman noted, has dropped as has his powerplay performance. With the extra man, Gaudreau is pacing for 20 points — seven less than he did in last year’s 99 point season.

The Flames, in theory, could look at flipping Gaudreau and get a really good haul to fill out the roster behind guys like Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk, for example.

These next few months will be crucial in determining Gaudreau, and others, future with the organization. Gaudreau has two years remaining on his contract that pays him $6.75-million.

On Twitter: @zjlaing