Last years regular season struggles and failure to make the playoffs left many in Calgary shaking their heads. The challenges the Flames faced last season may just have been minimal to the challenges that they faced during the off-season. Goaltending was a critical issue, and getting key RFA players signed was also a very high priority. With the trade for Brian Elliott done, and the goaltending question answered it was time to tackle the RFA troubles. First the Flames locked up young star center Sean Monahan. He signed a seven-year $44.625 million dollar contract, which boiled down to a $6.365 million annual hit. The focus then turned to the speedy Johnny Gaudreau. Well that negotiation has taken longer to solve, and what many thought would be a formality may just have turned into their biggest off-season challenge.
Negotiations are currently on hold until after the World Cup of Hockey, and many in Calgary are starting to worry a bit. Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun reported that Gaudreau and his agent are looking for a $8 million dollar deal. Calgary has reportedly been in the $6.5 million dollar category. Francis reported, “Sources say Gaudreau’s agent, Lewis Gross, is asking for a payday in the $8-million range while the Flames are pushing to pay between what Sean Monahan signed for ($6.375 million annual average value) and what captain Mark Giordano makes (a team-high $6.75 million AAV).” The Flames hold the cards on this deal since Gaudreau is restricted, and is not eligible to presented an offer-sheet. But the Flames also do not want to get into a huge contract battle with the young fan favorite.
According to Francis, “Flames fans can relax a bit, there is no way this will not get worked out, and no way that Gaudreau will not be in the Flames lineup come opening night.” It is very important that they find some common ground and get this deal done. The Flames cannot afford to not have the face of the team ready to start the season. I look for the Flames to lock him up right after the World Cup, and it looks as though $7 million a year for 6 years may just be the common ground.