Johnny Gaudreau can become an unrestricted free agent next week, but Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving remains optimistic that his “Plan A” will come to fruition.
Treliving said that he’ll continue to work to sign the standout left wing right up until the July 13 deadline that would see Gaudreau, who finished tied for second in NHL scoring with 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists), an unrestricted free agent.
“I think both sides are focused on trying to get a deal,” Treliving told media after the conclusion of the 2022 NHL Draft at Bell Centre in Montreal. “These things take time. We’ve seen it in the past. Johnny’s a real good player so there’s going to be lots of attention, but this isn’t the first player that’s gone four or five days to free agency and he won’t be the last. I think it’s real genuine on both sides that we’re working to try to get a deal done.”
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Gaudreau is still mulling Calgary’s offer, which is reportedly an eight-year deal that will pay the 5’9, 165-pound all-star $9.5 million annually.
Treliving believes he can return the 28-year-old to the fold.
“I’m always optimistic until told otherwise,” Treliving said. “I’m a pretty optimistic guy by nature. There’s a process to it. What I’ve found in our business, too, is deadlines push decisions. We’re creeping up on one. But I genuinely think everybody’s heart is in the right place. I think he wants to be in Calgary. But they’re big decisions.
“They’re life decisions. He’s earned this opportunity, if he doesn’t sign with us, to look at the market in however long it is. I think that’s something he’s got to consider. For us, it’s just trying to get our player signed. We’ll keep working at it.”
The clock is ticking, though.
And Treliving, admittedly, doesn’t have a backup plan should Gaudreau go to market.
“You look at all the options,” he started, “But again, our focus is on Plan A. Until such time Plan A is not a reality, we’ll focus on that. The only focus is trying to get him signed and we’ll continue working to that end.”
Gaudreau’s contract isn’t the only bit of work on Treliving’s plate.
Matthew Tkachuk, who was second on the Flames with 104 points (42 goals, 62 assists) is set to become a pending restricted free agent who can accept his one-year, $9 million qualifying offer and, in theory, walk into unrestricted free agency next summer.
It’s put Tkachuk in trade rumours leading into the NHL Draft.
“Our situation is pretty well known,” Treliving said. “We’ve got some players that need contracts, important players. We’ve been working at it for a while. We’ll continue to do that. I know there’s been lots the last couple of days…I was kind of hoping the cell phones would go down a lot earlier and stay down.
” But our whole focus has been getting these guys signed. We’ll continue to do that, in Johnny’s case, up until we can’t. We remain optimistic. They’re important players. That’s what we’re going to focus the next few days on.”