Putting pen to paper on the Sean Monahan contract may have checked one of the final boxes on the Calgary Flames summer to do list, but it turned the spotlight to another box that remains unchecked. The Flames’ other young star, Johnny Gaudreau, remains a restricted free agent late in to the offseason and the clock is ticking for Calgary and Gaudreau to get a deal done.
According to a report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Gaudreau, who will be on Team North America, will not negotiate from the time the World Cup of Hockey begins on September 17th to the time it concludes on October 1st. That wipes out a lot of time to negotiate before the Flames kick off their season on October 12th.
Calgary paid Sean Monahan top-line centre money and if the Flames believe Monahan deserves top line money at an AAV of $6.3 million ( which he certainly does), logic would suggest Gaudreau deserves top line winger money.
In his second NHL season, Gaudreau finished tied 6th in the league in points with 78, second amongst left wingers behind Jamie Benn. He missed the point per game mark by a hair ( 0.99) and was an NHL All-Star.
Is Gaudreau the second best left wing in the league? Probably not.
At the very least, Alex Ovechkin surpasses him there with 3 consistent 50 goal seasons. But especially with his dominant season last year, there is a very real argument to be made that he’s a top 5 left wing talent.
Looking at the league’s top left wingers, it’s a bit of a challenge to figure out a proper comparable contract.
Jamie Benn will be earning an AAV of $9.5 million after this upcoming year, but despite their talents, most of the other left wings with highest cap hits in the league are all past their prime days, whereas Gaudreau is just entering it. As such, it’s tough to really tell what he’ll get paid. With deals like:
Alex Ovechkin: $9.5 million (expires after 2020-21)
Rick Nash: $7.8 million (expires after 2017-18)
Zach Parise: $7.5 million (expires after 2024-25)
Daniel Sedin: $7 million (expires after 2017-18)
Patrick Marleau: $6.66 million (expires after 2016-17)
While Gauderau may only have one season of elite play under his plate ( a rather small sample size), the potential he showcases is worthy of a long time investment. Statistically, Gaudreau has been the best amongst the 2011 draft class on a point per game basis.
How much money does he deserve, and would it work with the Flames salary cap?
Calgary has a decent amount of wiggle room to put another big contract on the book with just over $8.5 million in cap space to play around with for this upcoming season.
Gaudreau and the Flames will almost certainly be looking long term, and he’ll likely likely end up with a deal which would round out to roughly a 7.2 million dollar cap hit, for approximately seven seasons. This would be $900K above Monahan per year and would make him the leagues 4th highest paid left winger.
This deal would give Gaudreau money that puts him in the ballpark of elite company and a long term deal in a place that he is seemingly comfortable with.
The deal could become a steal for the Flames when it’s all said and done. The deal would lock up Gaudreau until he is 30 and pretty much guarantee that his prime years as a player will be as a Calgary Flame. The Flames shouldn’t play around in negotiations with Gaudreau. They have a superstar talent with them that is putting up elite numbers thus far in his young NHL career and they shouldn’t take that for granted.
However, we’ll just have to wait and see how things actually turn out.