Will Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau, who was tied for second in the National Hockey League in regular season points, become an unrestricted free agent on July 13? That is the question of the free agent market right now, as Gaudreau would become the belle of the proverbial ball if he hit the open market.
Per Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the Flames would really prefer if he didn’t.
The Calgary Flames are in the process of putting the full court press on Gaudreau, the top pending free agent available this summer. Gaudreau, 28, is coming off an incredible contract year with new highs in goals (40), assists (75) and points (115) and could become one of the few career point-per-game players in NHL history to be open for bidding.
“Pedal down,” is how we’re told the Flames are approaching this exclusive negotiating window with Gaudreau, hoping to lock him up long-term with their built-in advantage of being the only team able to offer an eight-year contract. That advantage expires at 11:59 p.m. ET on July 12.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman have also recently said similar things in regards to the Flames’ desire to get clarity with Gaudreau and pending restricted free agent Matthew Tkachuk’s contract desires.
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Flames GM Brad Treliving made it pretty clear at the team’s season-ending media availability that he isn’t going to sit back on this one. He’s going to aggressively try to get Gaudreau re-signed. But I think if you read between the lines, there’s a more important message hidden in there: It’s not just about wanting to re-sign Gaudreau but also wanting to get some kind of answer — either way — on the player’s true intentions sooner rather than later.
Which is to say I don’t think the Flames will want to be doing this dance on July 11 or 12 ahead of free agency. They will want to know where they stand probably within the next couple of weeks. Because if they realize they can’t get him signed, they will want time to pivot. Remember, they also have RFA Matthew Tkachuk to sign.
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The Flames don’t want any Andrew Mangiapane slander — that he’s not as valuable to them as Johnny Gaudreau or Matthew Tkachuk. But they do recognize the salary slot will be lower than those two, which is why negotiations start with the first-line wingers. Once Calgary knows their landscape, they’ll know what else can (or needs) to be done. Gaudreau wanted no talks during the season and kept to that promise. There were minimal (if any) conversations. When they start talking very soon, it will be a completely new discussion. Don’t think the Flames will come tiptoeing into those negotiations, either. No time.
Gaudreau is undoubtedly the top offensive talent potentially available in the market. He’s also one of potentially eight members of their playoff roster that could become free agents on July 13 – the other seven are Ryan Carpenter, Calle Jarnkrok, Trevor Lewis, Brett Ritchie, Erik Gudbranson, Michael Stone and Nikita Zadorov.
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In Seravalli’s Top 50 free agent board, Gaudreau is #1, while fellow Flames Zadorov (#34), Gudbranson (#35) and Jarnkrok (#38) are also on the list.
Gaudreau is the first big domino in what could be a very important, and potentially transformative, off-season for the Flames franchise.

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