Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau is having an excellent 2021-22 season. With seven games to go in the regular season, the pending unrestricted free agent has 105 points and ranks among the top offensive players in the NHL.
In an appearance on CBC’s After Hours on Saturday night, Flames general manager Brad Treliving pledged “…we’re going to move heaven and earth and do everything we possibly can to get Johnny back here.”
How much is that going to cost?

Gaudreau, by the numbers

Gaudreau is a 28-year-old left wing from the United States. In the last season before free agency, he has 105 points (1.400 points per game) and over his last three seasons he has 212 points (1.055 points per game). His camp will argue, and quite accurately, that he’s a point-per-game player, someone who can consistently generate offense even in seasons where he’s not playing out of his mind.
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Even “bad” Gaudreau is capable of being a point-per-game player. In a league where scoring is highly valued, that will be the main driver of his new cap hit.

Some comparable players

Earlier this week, Daily Faceoff’s Chris Gear cited a few comparable players to Gaudreau on The Daily Faceoff Show. We’ve taken a few of the players he cited and grabbed a few of our own for comparison’s sakes.
New York Rangers’ winger Artemi Panarin is a big one. He signed with the Rangers in the summer of 2019 and received a seven year deal with an $11.64 million cap hit. In his final season before free agency, Panarin had 1.101 points per game – Gaudreau has scored more – and over his three seasons prior to free agency he had 1.004 points per game – again, Gaudreau had more.
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The upside for the Flames is they can offer Gaudreau an eighth year on a new deal, which would bring his cap hit down considerably: a hypothetical eighth season would be when Gaudreau is 36 years old, and the salary for that season would probably be low enough to drag the cap hit on the entire deal down into the $10 million (and change) range.
Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn re-upped with his team in 2016, signing an eight year deal worth $9.5 million. He had 1.085 points per game in his final year and 1.041 points per game in his final three years of his prior deal; Gaudreau has him beat in both realms. If you scale Benn’s $9.5 million AAV to the current cap situation, his deal would be worth $10.733 million per season.
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Gaudreau has a higher points per game than Tampa’s Brayden Point (eight years, $9.5 million AAV), Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner (eight years, $9 million AAV) and Vegas’ Mark Stone (eight years, $9.5 million AAV). He has a good case to be made for deals similar, if not higher, than theirs.
Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov is another decently close comparator – he was two years younger than Gaudreau when he re-upped with the Lightning – and he signed for eight years and $9.5 million AAV. Gaudreau out-performed him in the one and three year period before his extension, though you could easily argue that (a) Kucherov is underpaid based on his offensive production and (b) Florida’s tax situation makes him being underpaid still pretty competitive in terms of take-home pay.
If I’m Gaudreau’s camp, I’m probably looking for an eight year deal worth somewhere between $10 and $11 million (with as much signing bonuses, no-trade and no-move protections as can be crammed in). The Flames would probably be ecstatic if they can get Gaudreau signed for anywhere close to $10 million, especially considering the Panarin and Benn comparables.
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In other words: Gaudreau is gonna get paid.
What do you think Johnny Gaudreau’s contract will end up looking like? Let us know in the comments!

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