Flames Re-sign Johnny Gaudreau
The Calgary Flames re-signed restricted free agent left wing Johnny Gaudreau to a six-year, $40.5 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames had to pay out big bucks to re-sign Gaudreau, who was their leading scorer in 2015-16. However, they managed to get him under contract at an annual salary of their choosing.
It was reported Gaudreau’s agent sought over $8 million annually. Many observers (including myself) speculated he’d get between $7-$7.5 million on a seven- or eight-year contract. His new deal, however, is worth $6.75 million per season. That’s the upper level of what the Flames reportedly wanted to pay him.
In just two NHL seasons, the diminutive Gaudreau (5’9″, 157 lbs) blossomed into an exciting young scoring star. He was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2014-15 with 64 points in 80 games. In his sophomore campaign, he tallied 78 points in 79 games, topping the Flames and finishing sixth among NHL scorers.
Gaudreau’s new deal ties him with Mark Giordano as the Flames highest-paid player. The contract could also become the benchmark for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s contract negotiations with RFA winger Nikita Kucherov.
Given Gaudreau’s value to the Flames offense, they had to get him under contract before this upcoming season opens on Oct. 12. $6.75 million annually is still an expensive deal, but one which could prove worthwhile over the long run should the 23-year-old continue to shine as a scoring star. The deal allows Gaudreau to become eligible for UFA status by age 29.
Gaudreau’s new contract leaves the Flames with less than $540K of salary cap space. There was talk of them adding another defenseman once Gaudreau was re-signed. Doing so, however, could mean either shedding the contract ($3.5 million) of sidelined blueliner Ladislav Smid or placing him on long-term injury reserve.