Johnny Gaudreau says he loves Calgary. Brad Treliving says the Flames will “move heaven and earth” to keep him with the club.
The Flames’ season has been over for just under two weeks, though, and there hasn’t been much in the way of specifics when it comes to a potential new contract. And there are still plenty of questions about his future.
Can the Flames afford to give him a significant raise on the $6.75 million he made the previous six seasons? When the cards (or offers) are on the table, will Gaudreau want to stay, or would he like to take a peek at the open market?
If you’re a Flames fan, it’s too soon to panic — but with with free agency in five weeks’ time, it’s not too soon to think about other potential landing spots
Frankly, Gaudreau is good enough to motivate dozens of teams to, at the very least, poke around should he make it to July 13 without a contract. Call 32 general managers and ask if they’d sign Gaudreau, and most (if not all) would say yes. But it’s not that simple.
After a 115-point season that might land him in the top five in Hart Trophy voting, and after averaging a point per game for his career, Gaudreau could make between $9 million and $10.5 million on a new deal.
Some teams don’t have the cap space for that (Toronto, Vegas, Minnesota, New York Rangers). Some teams aren’t at the right point in their life cycles (Buffalo, Seattle, Arizona). Some just might not be in the right geographic location (Will Gaudreau play elsewhere in Canada? What about Southern California?).
To land a big-name free agent, a team typically needs some combination of cap space, a competitive roster and an attractive place to live in their pitch. Sometimes that can make the pool pretty shallow – something the Flames will have in their favour.
For now, here are five teams that check some (or all) of those boxes before offseason trades, draft and other roster gymnastics start.
Let’s get this one out of the way, because a Gaudreau-to-Philadelphia scenario is not new.
Not that anyone has forgotten, but Gaudreau grew up in South Jersey. His dad, Guy, has been an important figure in Philadelphia-area youth hockey for years. In 2017 he told a local radio station it would be “sweet” to play in the Philly area. His friend and teammate from Boston College, Kevin Hayes, is signed with the Flyers for four more years.
Other than personal connections, why is this something that could happen?
First, the organization needs a drawing card. Excluding the COVID-shortened season, the Flyers’ average announced home attendance this season, 16,505, is the lowest for the team in 49 years. Gaudreau signing back home would be a PR win for a franchise that desperately needs one.