Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 29, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 29, 2022

The latest on the Flames and Bruins plus the market value of Andrew Copp in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

FLAMES EXPECTED TO START TALKS WITH GAUDREAU AND TKACHUK SOON

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Calgary Flames won’t waste time starting contract talks with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. Gaudreau, 28, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer while the 24-year-old Tkachuk is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who is a year away from UFA eligibility.

Friedman believes the team will approach negotiations quickly and aggressively to find out where things stand with both players. That will determine whether they can re-sign them or what their next course of action will be.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Mcfarlane reports Gaudreau sounded like he’d very much like to remain with the Flames during his end-of-season press conference on Saturday. He spoke of how much he and his wife enjoy living in Calgary and admitted he could have a considerable legacy if he remains with the Flames. The winger indicated he’ll sit down with his agent sometime this week to discuss what’s best for himself and his family.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).

Flames general manager Brad Treliving said earlier this season he’d move heaven and earth to retain his club’s best offensive player. During Saturday’s presser, he reiterated his intent to sign Gaudreau.

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson and Daniel Austin report Tkachuk is open to a long-term deal with the Flames. “Absolutely,” he said. “I’ve loved it here. I’ve grown up here.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cost of re-signing Gaudreau and Tkachuk will take a big chunk out of their salary-cap payroll for years. It could end up costing a combined $20 million to keep them in the fold.

Cap Friendly shows the Flames with $55.575 million invested in 12 players for 2022-23. They can afford to sign Gaudreau and Tkachuk but won’t have much left for Mangiapane or to fill out the rest of the roster and address their roster weaknesses, such as bolstering the blueline depth.

As I’ve said before, Treliving will have to shed salary to make this work. Sean Monahan is frequently mentioned as a trade candidate but his $6.35 million cap hit, 10-team no-trade list and the ongoing decline in his performance due to nagging hip injuries make him difficult to move.

Mikael Backlund has been suggested as a trade option. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value of $5.35 million and a 10-team no-trade list. The 33-year-old’s age could be a concern but he’d still have value as a middle-six center.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss believes the Bruins’ top-three offseason priorities are finding a top-six center, adding a scoring winger and bringing more young players into their lineup.

The Bruins will desperately need a center if captain Patrice Bergeron retires. If he returns, it’ll still be a pressing issue for their second line. Neither Erik Haula or Charlie Coyle are legitimate top-six centers. Free-agent options include Claude Giroux, Evgeni Malkin and Nazem Kadri but the Bruins would have to clear cap space to add one of them.

What happens with Jake DeBrusk could affect efforts to add a scoring winger. DeBrusk intends to take some time to determine if he’ll withdraw last November’s trade request. The Bruins can’t afford to move him unless they get a similar player in return.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa points out the Bruins need to clear salary-cap space if they intend to add a center. He proposed trading Mike Reilly ($3 million through 2023-24) or Craig Smith ($3 million through 2022-23) or buying out Nick Foligno ($3.8 million through 2022-23).

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Bruins will consider moving blueliner Brandon Carlo in a deal for a top-six center. He also noted Bruins fans clamoring for the club to shop Matt Grzelcyk. Murphy indicated Connor Clifton was “out there in the trade market” at various points this season so it wouldn’t be surprising if he is again.

If the Bruins aren’t going to go all-in building up their depth at center, Murphy suggested bolstering their top-four defense. Dallas Stars rearguard John Klingberg could be worth looking into in the UFA market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This summer will be challenging for Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. He faces the potential retirement of first-line center Patrice Bergeron, first-line left winger Brad Marchand will miss the opening two months of the season recovering from hip surgery, and he must free up cap room to address the roster weaknesses.

The Bruins are screwed at center if Bergeron retires. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns for one more season to buy the club time to shore up their depth at that position.

DeBrusk or Carlo could be used as trade bait to add a center or a winger. However, interested clubs could insist the Bruins included a decent draft pick or prospect in the deal.

Trading Reilly or Smith or buying out Foligno will help clear cap space. Those savings, however, are no certainty that Bruins management can find the right players to address their roster needs in this summer’s trade and free-agent market.

A LOOK AT CONTRACT COMPARABLES FOR COPP

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek examined the possible contract comparables for Andrew Copp. The 27-year-old forward was a great trade acquisition by the New York Rangers. He’s slated to become a UFA in July.

Marek speculates Copp’s next deal could be somewhere between what Phillip Danault got from the Los Angeles Kings last summer and what Zach Hyman received from the Edmonton Oilers. Danault got six years and $33 million while Hyman’s was seven years and $38.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault and Hyman are each earning $5.5 million annually. Copp’s current contract pays him $3.64 million this season.

The Rangers are believed to be interested in re-signing him but he could price himself out of their market. They’ve got $12 million in cap space with Ryan Strome also slated to become a UFA while winger Kaapo Kakko is coming off his entry-level contract and backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev is an RFA with arbitration rights.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 28, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 28, 2022

A look at the Blues’ potential offseason plans plus the latest speculation over Johnny Gaudreau’s future in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLUES?

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton looked at what could be in store for the St. Louis Blues following their elimination from the playoffs by the Colorado Avalanche.

St. Louis Blues winger David Perron (NHL Images).

She anticipates they’ll re-sign Ville Husso before his eligibility for unrestricted free agent status on July 13. Despite the 27-year-old goaltender’s ordinary postseason performance, he’s a good complement in the crease with starter Jordan Binnington.

Vladimir Tarasenko had requested a trade last summer but that was overshadowed this season by the Blues’ improved performance. General manager Doug Armstrong will have to find the right return if the 30-year-old winger still wants out.

David Perron is also slated to become a UFA this summer. He had a terrific postseason but it remains to be determined where the 33-year-old winger fits into the Blues’ plans.

Armstrong must also shore up his defense corps. That includes new contracts for restricted free agents like Scott Perunovich and Niko Mikkola as well as adding some veterans who can play significant roles.

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: Ben Frederickson recently opined that the Blues must fight hard to keep Perron in the fold. He cites the winger’s value to the club during this postseason, especially during the first-round series against the Minnesota Wild. Frederickson also noted the Blues struggled without Perron during last year’s postseason series against the Avs when he was sidelined by COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frederickson acknowledged Perron’s age and concussion history, but also believes the Blues can’t compete for the Stanley Cup next season without him. He makes a good point. Perron finished this postseason as the Blues’ leading scorer and is second among all scorers through two rounds with nine goals. He always steps up his game in the playoffs.

The problem, as always, is salary cap space. Cap Friendly shows the Blues with over $72 million invested in 17 players for 2022-23 with Perron, Husso, Perunovich and Mikkola as their notable free agents. Nick Leddy is also a UFA but I think he’ll be departing this summer. Ditto 36-year-old center Tyler Bozak.

Perron earned $4 million annually on a four-year deal and might accept a similar salary on a shorter term to stay in St. Louis. Husso’s due for a significant raise over his $750K salary for this season and could get perhaps $4 million annually on the open market.

Assuming Armstrong can re-sign those crucial free agents, he won’t have enough left to bring in some veteran help on the blueline. He’ll have to shed a salary or two. Shipping out Tarasenko if he still wants out will remove $7 million from the Blues’ cap payroll but it creates another problem of finding a suitable replacement.

Armstrong must also ensure he’ll have sufficient long-term cap space to sign rising stars like Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas to contract extensions next summer. The duo will be RFAs with arbitration rights next summer and in line for big raises over their identical $2.8 million cap hits of their current deals.

LATEST ON JOHNNY GAUDREAU

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson wonders what the future holds for Johnny Gaudreau following the Flames’ second-round elimination by the Edmonton Oilers. The 28-year-old winger is coming off a career-best 115-point performance and is slated to become a UFA on July 13. He’s completing a six-year contract with an annual average value of $6.75 million.

Gilbertson reminded us of GM Brad Treliving claiming he’d move heaven and earth to keep Gaudreau in Calgary. Without their first-line engine, they could take a significant step back from this season’s improvement.

If Gaudreau stays, he’ll be getting the richest contract in franchise history. Treliving has the advantage of being able to offer an eight-year deal whereas the winger would get seven years via free agency. Re-signing him, however, could complicate efforts to sign RFAs like Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Sam Carchidi wondered if Gaudreau would sign with the Flyers if he tests the open market in July. He grew up in South Jersey and was a Flyers fan growing up. In 2016, Gaudreau observed that everyone wants to play for their hometown team eventually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I noted the Flames’ cap situation and that of the Flyers in my May 27 Rumor Mill. I don’t doubt Treliving will do what he can to keep Gaudreau in Calgary, but he’ll end up having to dump a salary or two to make room for the winger’s new contract and those of Tkachuk, Mangiapane and Kylington.

The Flyers, meanwhile, have much less cap room than the Flames. If they can’t free up between $9 million and $10 million to sign Gaudreau, the dream of Johnny Hockey rocking a Flyers jersey won’t have a chance of becoming a reality.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner mused about the possibility of the New York Islanders signing Gaudreau. With probably $8 million in cap space once they re-sign RFA Noah Dobson, they’ll have to shed salary if they hope to come up with enough to sign him. Cost-cutting candidates could include Josh Bailey, Semyon Varlamov or Anthony Beauvillier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau could be a terrific fit alongside Islanders center Mathew Barzal. I think GM Lou Lamoriello will try to add a scoring forward this summer but could opt for a more affordable option, such as Nashville’s Filip Forsberg.

THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian looked at some possible cost-cutting trade options for the Flames. Milan Lucic is a year away from UFA status but his eight-team trade list is a stumbling block. Mikael Backlund is 33 and has two more years left at $5.35 million annually with a 10-team no-trade list.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 27, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 27, 2022

A look at the Flames’ possible offseason decisions plus the latest roundup of Penguins speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE FLAMES?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski believes the Calgary Flames’ offseason decisions will be tied to Johnny Gaudreau. The 28-year-old left wing had a career-best 115-point performance this season but he’s also slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

The Flames must also sign restricted free agent wingers Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane. Tkachuk tallied 42 goals this season and Mangipane 35 goals.

Wyshynski observes the Flames have 12 players under contract for 2022-23. If general manager Brad Treliving tinkers with the roster it’ll likely be on the defense as the forward lines are deep and talented. He also mentioned center Sean Monahan has a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $6.375 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Flames have over $55 million invested in next season’s roster. Tkachuk is completing a three-year deal with an annual average value of $7 million but his actual salary for this season was $9 million, which will be the cost to the Flames to qualify his rights unless they can agree to a new deal before the July 11 qualifying offer deadline.

Mangiapane earned $2.425 million annually on his current deal and could be seeking a raise between $4.5 and $5 million per season. RFA Defenseman Oliver Kylington will be seeking much more than the $750K he earned this season.

That’s why there’s been speculation suggesting the Flames could trade or buy out Monahan to free up cap space. However, he underwent hip surgery several weeks ago and could be ineligible for a buyout if he’s not fully recovered by then. That would also affect efforts to trade him.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Giana Han wonders if the Flyers might be able to woo Gaudreau if he hits the open market in July. The South Jersey native grew up a Flyers fan and suggested back in 2017 that it would be “sweet” to play for them one day.

Han speculates Gaudreau could command between $9 million and $10 million on his next contract. NBC hockey analyst Keith Jones said adding the gifted winger would provide some real excitement for a fan base that hasn’t had much to cheer about lately. However, it would take a lot of cap maneuvering as well as hoping Gaudreau would accept a hometown discount.

The Flyers have over $77 million invested in 18 players next season with all their core players are under contract. They’ll have to shed a lot of salary to sign Gaudreau even if he accepts a hometown discount, which I doubt he will.

LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION

TRIBLIVE.COM: Seth Rorabaugh reported earlier this week that Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall’s priority remains re-signing pending UFAs Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. He acknowledged his club’s limited salary cap space but remains hopeful of reaching agreements with both players, though there’s no timeline right now. Their statuses will reflect how the rest of the roster takes shape.

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reported Hextall said he’d focus elsewhere if he can’t sign Malkin but indicated his focus “first and foremost” is on the 35-year-old center. He wouldn’t commit to bringing back RFA forwards Danton Heinen and Kaspari Kapanen. He also indicated he’d be willing to have trade discussions regarding one of his left-handed defensemen to make room for Pierre-Olivier Joseph.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Paul Zeise believes the Penguins better upgrade their goaltending if they’re bringing Malkin and Letang back. He doesn’t feel this season’s tandem of Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith (also a pending UFA) is good enough to carry the Penguins to the Stanley Cup, which should be the purpose of retaining Malkin and Letang.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dave Molinari believes the list of viable candidates to replace Letang starts and ends with the Dallas Stars’ John Klingberg.

THE ATHLETIC: Harman Dayal examined the cost for the Vancouver Canucks to acquire John Marino. He cited speculation from earlier this season suggesting the Penguins’ defenseman could be available for the right price. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Canucks kicked tires on Marino before the trade deadline. Dayal observed it’s no secret Canucks hockey ops president (and former Penguins GM) Jim Rutherford is a Marino fan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have $59.2 million invested in 16 players. Re-signing Malkin and Letang could eat up around $12 million to $14 million in cap space. The Penguins can afford it but it will hamper efforts to bolster their roster next season.

We could see Hextall shed some salary to make room for a younger defenseman like Joseph or to bring in depth in goal. Marino and his $4.4 million annually through 2026-27 could be an option.

There aren’t many palatable choices for goaltenders via free agency unless they’re bringing back Marc-Andre Fleury. The trade market is also thin on goalies this season.

Heinen played well enough to earn an affordable short-term deal perhaps. Kapanen, however, could end up on the trade block given his disappointing performance this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2022

Do Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews fit into the Blackhawks’ rebuild process? What could be in store this summer for the Islanders and Kraken? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Phil Thompson reported Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson cleared up any ambiguity about a fast rebuild for his club. He didn’t put a timeline on it but suggested it could take at least three-to-five years.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

Long-time Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews recently remarked they saw no reason the club couldn’t turn things around within a year or two. With a year remaining on their respective contracts, they have no choice but to go along with Davidson’s plans unless they agree to waive their no-movement clauses and ask to be traded.

Davidson believes Kane and Toews have a place in the club’s plans and made his expectations clear to both during their exit interviews.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis reported Davidson also said those conversations were healthy and productive and he’s pleased with how they went. It’s believed the Blackhawks GM intends to keep his two aging stars in the loop regarding the club’s direction.

Whether that silences the trade speculation about those two (especially Kane) that surfaced in the final weeks of the regular season remains to be seen.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently examined the New York Islanders’ offseason priorities.

Finding a high-end winger for first-line center Mathew Barzal topped his list. He advocated the cap-strapped Islanders pull off some “salary-cap gymnastics” to pursue Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg or Florida’s Claude Giroux if they become available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Isles with $70.2 million invested in 18 active players for 2022-23 with Noah Dobson as their only notable free agent to re-sign. General manager Lou Lamoriello would have to shed considerable salary to free up space to make a serious offer for Gaudreau, Forsberg or Giroux.

Gaudreau could seek $10 million annually if he hits the open market while Forsberg could come in around $8 million. Giroux is 34 and would be more affordable but a lot could depend on how well the Panthers do in this postseason.

Kurz also suggested the Isles need to sort out their goalie tandem. Semyon Varlamov made it clear he was happy not being moved at the March trade deadline. However, it remains to be seen if he’s willing to take a back seat next season to Ilya Sorokin.

If not, perhaps the Isles should attempt to trade Varlamov and the remaining year on his contract this summer. He carries a $5 million cap hit plus a 16-team no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was talk of teams calling the Islanders about Varlamov. Given general manager Lou Lamoriello’s secretive nature, we have no idea if those calls were seriously entertained or even took place.

Moving Varlamov and his cap hit would make it easier for Lamoriello to pursue a top-six winger for Barzal’s line. Sorokin has proven himself as an NHL starter but he and Varlamov work well together as a tandem. Lamoriello could be reluctant to break that up for next season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Geoff Baker reports Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis intends to see more goal-scoring for his club in the offseason via free agency. He’ll be looking for someone who can play in their top-six or top-nine. Francis also mentioned he could seek a blueline upgrade, especially for someone who is offensively inclined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken has the cap space to invest in a scoring winger or a puck-moving defenseman this summer if they’re willing to spend toward the cap. They have $59.6 million committed to 14 players next season with no expensive core players to re-sign.

Francis was able to woo Philipp Grubauer and Jaden Schwartz to Seattle in last summer’s UFA market. I wouldn’t discount the possibility of him landing another notable free-agent player.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2022

The Panthers win the Presidents’ Trophy, Hurricanes goalie tandem Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta win the Jennings Trophy, Dustin Brown announces his retirement following the playoffs and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in franchise history by blanking the Ottawa Senators 4-0. With 122 points, the Panthers hold the NHL’s best record this season. Spencer Knight turned in a 27-save shutout performance while Carter Verhaeghe tallied twice.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen (NHL Images).

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta kicked out 27 shots while Jesperi Kotkaniemi had a goal and two assists in a 6-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. The Hurricanes have won six straight. Raanta and Frederik Andersen won the William M. Jennings Memorial Trophy for allowing the fewest goals (202) this season. Earlier in the week, the Hurricanes clinched first place in the Metropolitan Division. Devils winger Andreas Johnsson missed the game with a non-COVID illness.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser scored twice, including the overtime winner, as his club overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Before the game, Los Angeles winger Dustin Brown announced he’ll retire following the playoffs. The Kings clinched a playoff berth several days ago, sitting third in the Pacific Division with 99 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brown captained the Kings to two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014. A versatile and physical forward, he’s spent his entire 18-season career with the Kings, scored 325 goals and 387 assists for 712 points in a franchise-leading 1,296 regular-season games.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron tallied a hat trick while Linus Ullmark stopped 37 saves to shut out the Buffalo Sabres 5-0. Bergeron also became the fourth player in franchise history to score 400 career goals. The Bruins hold the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 107 points.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov’s 46th goal of the season came in overtime to snuff out the Calgary Flames 3-2. Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau scored his 40th of the season, joining teammates Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm in the 40-goal club. The Flames clinched first place in the Pacific Division earlier this week (111 points) while the Wild sit two points ahead of the third-place St. Louis Blues with 111 points. Both clubs will face each other in the opening round of the playoffs next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau, Tkachuk and Lindholm are the first Flames trio to reach 40 goals in a season since Theo Fleury, Robert Reichel and Gary Roberts did it in 1993-94.

A shootout goal by Matt Duchene lifted the Nashville Predators to a 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Predators defensemen Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm each had a goal and an assist while David Rittich made 42 saves for the win. The Predators (97 points) hold a one-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the first Western wild-card berth with both clubs having one game left. The Avalanche hold first overall in the Western Conference with 119 points.

The Edmonton Oilers nipped the San Jose Sharks 5-4 on an overtime goal by Zach Hyman. Edmonton captain Connor McDavid collected an assist for his league-leading 123rd point while Noah Gregor scored two goals for the Sharks. The Oilers recently clinched a playoff spot and sit second in the Pacific Division with 102 points.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and an assist as his club upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2. With the loss, the Lightning (108 points) failed to clinch third place in the Atlantic Division, sitting one point ahead of the Bruins with both clubs having a game remaining.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal collected three assists as his club upset the Washington Capitals 5-1. The Capitals (100 points) recently clinched the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock missed this game with a non-COVID illness.

IN OTHER NEWS…

SPORTSNET: Hundreds of hockey fans, hockey personalities and journalists paid their final respects to Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Bossy yesterday during a funeral service north of Montreal. Bossy passed away from lung cancer on April 14 at age 65.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rest in peace, Mike Bossy. He was one of the greatest goal scorers in NHL history and a key part of the New York Islanders Stanley Cup dynasty from 1980 to 1983.

WINNIPEG SUN: TSN broadcaster Dennis Beyak will retire from his role as the Jets play-by-play man. He held that job since the club relocated to Winnipeg in 2011.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks hired Jeff Greenberg as their associate general manager. Greenberg, 36, is an assistant general manager with MLB’s Chicago Cubs.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 19, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 19, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, an update on Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau’s contract situation plus some off-season goaltender targets for the Sabres.

UPDATE ON GAUDREAU’S CONTRACT TALKS

CALGARY SUN: On Sunday, Wes Gilbertson reported Flames general manager Brad Treliving promised his club’s fans that he will “move heaven and earth and do everything we possibly can” to sign Johnny Gaudreau to a new contract. Gaudreau, 28, becomes eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 13. He’s in the midst of a career year with 107 points and a key reason why the Flames are sitting atop the Pacific Division as the regular season draws to a close.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

We’re going to do everything we humanly possibly can to have him be back here and be a Flame for a long, long time,” said Treliving. The Flames GM praised Gaudreau for how well he’s performed under head coach Darryl Sutter.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun said Treliving had better move heaven and earth because that’s what it’s going to take to sign Gaudreau. He indicated there’s nothing new regarding his contract talks, pointing out the two sides agreed to pick up those conversations following this season.

LeBrun said there’s been “really good dialogue” all season long and there’s still time to sign him after this season. He also praised both sides for the lack of drama regarding this situation. It hasn’t proved to be a distraction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to cost the Flames a lot of money to keep Gaudreau in Calgary. His performance this season (sitting third overall in league scoring) has pushed his value much higher than it would’ve been last summer. At that point, I think the Gaudreau camp would’ve sought between $8 and $9 million annually. Now, it could be closer to $10 million annually on a long-term deal. Maybe the Flames can get it close to $9 million by selling Gaudreau on an eight-year contract, something he can’t get on the open market where the limit is seven years.

Complicating things is the Flames’ cap space for next season. Cap Friendly shows them with $55.4 million invested in 12 active players. That gives them plenty of space to re-sign Gaudreau, but they’ve got Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington due for new deals this summer as restricted free agents with arbitration rights.

That’s why there’s speculation the Flames could attempt to trade Sean Monahan, who has a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $6.375 million and a 10-team no-trade clause. Muddling things further, however, is Monahan’s declining performance over the past two years and his recent season-ending hip surgery.

Trading Monahan to shed salary could prove very difficult. Buying him out this summer won’t be an option if he hasn’t fully recovered from his surgery during that period and he doesn’t agree to go along with it.

SUGGESTED SABRES GOALTENDER TARGETS

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski examined some potential off-season goalie targets for the Sabres if 40-year-old Craig Anderson decides not to return next season.

The Sabres have the cap space to overpay for an experienced netminder on a short-term deal. However, there are few options in this summer’s UFA market. That list includes Darcy Kuemper, Mikko Koskinen, Jaroslav Halak, Braden Holtby, Ville Husso, Joonas Korpisalo, Casey DeSmith, Tomas Greiss and David Rittich. Most have endured recent struggles while the others might not want to sign with the Sabres.

Lysowski believes they might have better luck in this summer’s trade market. Options could include the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick, New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, Anaheim Ducks’ John Gibson or the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Sabres have a projected $40 million in cap space for 2022-23. They’ll have to spend to reach a cap floor that could be close to $61 million. Their ongoing struggles and perpetual rebuild could make them a difficult sell to potential free agents or as preferred trade destinations for the others.

Quick lacks no-trade protection but he only has a year remaining on his contract and it wouldn’t surprise me if Kings management lets him finish it in Los Angeles. Varlamov has a 16-team no-trade list and Gibson a 10-team no-trade list. Lysowski suggested Georgiev’s inconsistent play this season might not make him enticing for the Sabres.