As much as the Calgary Flames have done this offseason, one thing we really haven’t heard much about is the ongoing contract negotiations with star RFA Johnny Gaudreau. That is, until today.
The news isn’t exactly music to Flames fans ears though, as a report from the Calgary Sun suggests that Gaudreau’s camp is looking $8 million annually. The Flames meanwhile, have been pushing for a number somewhere between Sean Monahan ($6.38 million) and Mark Giordano ($6.75 million). That’s a difference of about $1.5 million, which is pretty significant.
So where do negotiations go from here?
It’s not time to hit the panic button just yet. Since Gaudreau is an RFA, and only has two full NHL seasons under his belt, he doesn’t have a lot of leverage in these contract talks. The Flames control his rights, so unless he wants to sit out the start of the season, it’s really a matter of when, not if.
It makes sense why Gaudreau’s side is pushing for as much as possible. After all, Johnny Hockey is no slouch. His 78 points last season was good enough for eighth in the league scoring race, and at just 23-years-old, his best days are likely still be ahead of him.
But Brad Treliving and the Flames need to be prudent with negotiations. Every little fraction of cap space saved is valuable, especially for a team that hopes to compete in the next few seasons, and will surely be spending to the cap ceiling.
Is he worth $8 million a season? Probably, but that doesn’t mean you have to give it to him. Only 14 other players in the NHL have contracts with an AAV at or above $8 million, and all of them are bonafide star players over the age of 26. Quite frankly, it’s very rare for an RFA to get that kind of money, unless you have the status of a Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin.
If #Flames are at around $6.5M and Gaudreau is at $8M, this smells like $7.25M to me. But for how many years? I'm on record as saying seven.
— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) September 9, 2016
When both sides are this far off from one another, the answer usually lies somewhere in the middle. Considering Vladimir Tarasenko (Gaudreau’s closest comparable) signed an eight-year deal worth $7.5 million per season, I’d expect Johnny to come in right around there.
Regardless of the dollar amount, if Gaudreau continues to dominate the way he has, he will be well worth whatever contract he signs. Every dollar counts in the salary cap era though, and the Flames are in limbo right now.
How low can they go?