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All Eyes are On Johnny Gaudreau Following Flames Exit From Playoffs

The biggest offseason question for the Calgary Flames after losing to the Oilers is what will happen with Johnny Gaudreau’s contract?

What will Johnny Gaudreau choose to do? That’s the big question for the Calgary Flames this summer and general manager Brad Treliving has already said he plans to “move heaven and earth” to keep Gaudreau in the fold. But, a disappointing series loss, a huge pending contract extension, and the Flames’ need to keep money in the reserves for names like Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane mean a Gaudreau extension won’t come without sacrifice.

Related: 4 Key Contributors to the Oilers’ 5-4 Overtime Series Win Over the Flames 

Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames NHL 1
Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames NHL 1

If Gaudreau wants to test free agency, he’ll get $9 – $10 million easily per season. He scored 115 points (40 goals) this past year and at the age of 28, there are still enough good years in him that he’ll be of good value for at least five or six of the seven or eight-year deal he signs. But, can the Flames afford to keep him at that rate and have anywhere close to as strong a team as they did this season?

First, the Flames were a bit of a surprise club in 2022-23. If you’d asked a number of insiders at the start of the year if the Flames would win 50 games and earn 111 points in the standings, few would have been able to predict such a campaign. Head coach Darryl Sutter had this group playing out of their minds during the regular season, but a hot Oilers team that had Jacob Markstrom’s number and Calgary’s inability to slow the speed and skill of the Oilers’ top players was too much.

The one Flame who seemed dangerous all series was Gaudreau, even if the numbers didn’t show he was helping as much as he could have. He had 14 points in 12 playoff games and he showed enough that there will be plenty of interest from around the league if the Flames don’t step up. Someone else will — possibly the Philadelphia Flyers.

Will Calgary Really Move Heaven and Earth?

Treliving might have been exaggerating when he said the Flames would move heaven and earth to keep Gaudreau, but he might not be that far off. There will be plenty of players on this Flames roster who won’t be back if the team intends to up Gaudreau’s salary by a good $2.5 – $3 million per season. Among them, Calle Jarnkrok, Trevor Lewis, Nikita Zadorov, Brett Ritchie, Michael Stone and others won’t be back. The team might dangle Milan Lucic or Mikael Backlund in possible trades to free up money and they’ll certainly try to move Sean Monahan’s contract off the books.

Will that be enough? It will be for Gaudreau, but the following summer, they’ll have Tkachuk and Mangiapane to worry about and if the Flames want to ink Oliver Kylington to a long-term deal this summer, they’ll need to make room for that contract too.

Next: Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits: Giordano on Keefe, Robertson & Nylander

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