Happy New Year, everybody! It’s 2022 now, and hopefully we can keep the best things from 2021 and abandon the less fun parts. It’s time for the first mailbag of the new year!
Let’s check out the questions!
This won’t be hot gossip, but my understanding is the Flames would love to re-up their three major restricted free agents (Matthew Tkachuk, Oliver Kylington and Andrew Mangiapane) as well as Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau has been part of the organization for a decade and there’s a certain amount of mutual fondness between the organization and the player’s camp (and family) – that goes a long way. From everything we’re hearing, though, both the team and the player have agreed to keep talking but not comment on talks publicly during the season.
There’s a salary cap and Gaudreau probably wants a deal that compensates him fairly relative to the rest of the NHL’s top guns. Their last negotiation back in 2016 was a bit contentious for one reason: it wasn’t really clear what Gaudreau was (or would be) at the NHL level, as plenty of players have had impressive entry-level performances and then crashed back down to Earth.
But now? Well, it’s pretty damn clear that Gaudreau is a unique offensive talent and the straw that stirs the Flames’ drink in terms of their whole attack. He’s good. He’s really good. And it’s probably fair to expect him to get paid accordingly. And while he definitely feels some loyalty towards the club – he’s cited multiple times in the past how grateful he was to the team for drafting him and allowing him to pursue his college hockey dreams – it’s probably not fair to expect him to take a gigantic pay cut to stick around town. As a UFA, he probably gets somewhere around $9.5 million on a long term deal. Can the Flames make a deal work if they can talk him down to $9 million? (And what do they need to do to open up cap space to sign everybody long-term?)
The Gaudreau extension is going to be probably the big off-ice story during the first half of 2022.
Under the terms of the Project Framework Agreement, if the construction conditions (e.g., budgetary and permit stuff) haven’t been fully agreed to by December 31, 2021, the deal would terminate. We’ve received confirmation that’s what happened, so now basically the City and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation will tally up the eligible costs, ensure they’re paid 50/50, and then go their separate ways.
We’ll have more details on what happens after all of that in the next few days, in terms of next steps for both sides.
Kinnvall suffered an injury in prospect camp and has been recovering and rehabbing it. Our understanding is he’s nearing a return to action, so we should probably hear something about his status (e.g., an assignment to Stockton) before too long.
At this point, I’d definitely expect Brad Treliving to be active at the trade deadline and trying to add some scoring to the team. If you look at the roster, the club has goaltending depth and blueline depth, but they’re lacking additional scoring help for the Flames’ top four scorers. Adding a mid-level offensive weapon would be beneficial. The challenge would be adding them at a good price, and avoiding adding players with term left, as adding players who aren’t rentals will make the cap situation moving forward really, really challenging.
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