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What we know, and what we don’t, about Johnny Gaudreau’s situation

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Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Steinberg
5 months ago
We’re less than four weeks from the start of 2022 free agency and Johnny Gaudreau remains unsigned by Calgary. It’s crunch time and I would suggest Flames fans are getting more nervous each passing day a contract isn’t agreed upon. There’s a lot of information to sift through when it comes to Johnny’s future. Let’s look at what we know, and what we don’t, right now.

What we know

I believe the Flames have made their initial offer to Gaudreau’s camp, which meshes with timelines reported elsewhere. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli has suggested Calgary is using a “pedal down” approach in negotiations with Gaudreau. And Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported three weeks ago the Flames weren’t going to waste any time in starting conversations.
What that offer looks like is anyone’s guess. You can be sure it’s of the eight-year variety, though. General manager Brad Treliving knows how valuable Calgary’s extra year is, as it gives the team a significant leg up on everyone else when it comes to total money. He also knows how much more difficult things became when July 12th turns to the 13th and that eighth year is no longer on the table.
So what teams are sitting, waiting, and hoping Gaudreau ends up going to free agency? You can bet there will be plenty of them, because players of Johnny’s stature don’t hit the market very often. The two teams I’ve gotten the “yes” nod on from people I trust, however, are New Jersey and Philadelphia.
The connection to the Flyers is obvious. Furthermore, Friedman has suggested they’re a team interested in clearing cap space to help facilitate general manager Chuck Fletcher and his “blank cheque” to help turn the team around. The Devils have a lot going for them, too, with a ton of cap space, an up and coming group of high-end prospects, while also fitting the “close to home” mold.
The last thing that falls under this category is my belief the Flames and Gaudreau were close to agreeing on something before this season began. It’s something I’ve gone back to many times when falling on the optimistic side of this conversation over the last nine months. Johnny also confirmed ahead of round two that talks happened prior to last season before being tabled. Ultimately a deal didn’t get done and, well, here we are 115 points later.

What we don’t know

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No one has any idea what the actual dollar range is here, because Calgary and Gaudreau’s camp have done a great job keeping details under wraps. The Flames may have made their initial offer, which would likely then be countered by Gaudreau’s representation, led by Lewis Gross. Your intel is as good as mine when it comes to what those numbers look like or how far apart the two sides are.
We also don’t know what Johnny wants, and that goes beyond dollars and cents. Does he want to be closer to home? After getting married last summer, is settling down in driving distance from family and friends more of a factor now than it was before?
On the flip side, how much does Gaudreau’s legacy in Calgary mean to him? Could things like potential captaincy or his jersey hanging from the rafters one day help the Flames in their pitch? If Gaudreau were to stay, he’d almost certainly finish his career number one in franchise history for points and assists, and potentially more. How important is that to Johnny?
And then there’s the hardest question to answer of all: if Gaudreau doesn’t re-sign in Calgary, then what? It’s a question to explore in another article, but it’s one that grows in the back of my head each day we move closer to free agency. How would that impact Matthew Tkachuk’s future? And what direction would Flames management then take?
Right now, we have far fewer answers than questions.

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