Latest on the Flames and Lightning – September 9, 2016
An update on the Calgary Flames’ contract talks with Johnny Gaudreau and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s plans for their goaltending this season.
CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis reports there’s about a $1.5 million gap in contract talks between the Flames and player agent Lewis Gross, who represents left wing Johnny Gaudreau. Sources claim Gross seeks around $8 million per season on a long-term deal for his client, while the Flames prefer something between $6.35 million (which Gaudreau’s linemate Sean Monahan recently agreed to) and $6.75 million (the annual cap hit of team captain Mark Giordano).
One source doesn’t see Gaudreau worth more than Monahan, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg ($6 million AAV) or Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon ($6.3 million AAV). Another source points to Gaudreau’s poor production away from Calgary (only 19 of his 78 points came on the road last season), his small size (5’9″, 157 lbs) raising questions about his durability and limited defensive game as factors of concern.
Francis believes there’s little chance the Flames will set such a high bar for future players coming off entry-level contracts. He also doubts Gaudreau will withhold his services or play overseas for a year, where he won’t receive an offer that matches what the Flames are offering. Ultimately, Francis speculates a long-term deal for Gaudreau will hover around $7 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In just two NHL seasons, Gaudreau has established himself as a rising star. He’ll get big bucks, but I think that ceiling is $7 million AAV . He could stage a holdout, but I doubt he wants to go that route.
Gaudreau also said he doesn’t want to talk contract during the World Cup of Hockey tournament. While he could miss what remains of the Flames preseason following the World Cup, participating in that tournament won’t hurt his conditioning.
This could go right up to the start of the regular season, but I believe both sides will hammer out an agreement before then. And no, I don’t see him getting an offer sheet from a rival club or the Flames shopping him if he stages a holdout at the start of the season.
PS: As noted in the comments section, Gaudreau is ineligible to receive an offer sheet.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports speculation suggesting the Tampa Bay Lightning could trade one of their two goalies (Ben Bishop or Andrei Vasilevskiy) by the Feb. 28 trade deadline could be hasty. General manager Steve Yzerman isn’t ruling out the possibility of keeping Bishop and Vasilevskiy for the entire season.
Much of the trade speculation has centered around Bishop, who’s carrying a $5.9 million cap hit this season and is eligible for UFA status in July. While there’s a risk of losing Bishop to free agency or the June expansion draft for nothing, keeping the goalie tandem intact could give the Lightning their best chance to win the Stanley Cup next spring.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot will also depend upon how well Bishop and Vasilevskiy perform, as well as the Lightning’s roster needs over the course of the upcoming regular season. If both are playing well and no obvious weaknesses appear elsewhere in the lineup, there’s no reason to move Bishop. Sure, it comes at the risk of losing him after the playoffs for nothing, but if he helps the Bolts win the Cup, it’ll be a gamble worth taking.