In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, Johnny Gaudreau made it clear on the opening day of camp that he is not interested in talking about his current contract situation with the media this season. Meanwhile, a player who was brought in on a new contract, Blake Coleman, has been seeing time on the team’s top line in camp. Another new addition in Nikita Zadorov, who will likely be used in a top four role to begin the season, is very excited for the opportunity to play in a Canadian market. Last but not least, general manager Brad Treliving was able to sign prospect Jeremie Poirier to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Gaudreau Not Speaking on Extension
Much has been made this summer that Gaudreau has just one season remaining on a six-year, $40.5 million deal he signed in October of 2016. In the coming months, Treliving will make to make a decision on whether or not he wants to re-sign the 28-year-old, or trade him in order to make sure they don’t lose him for nothing in free agency next offseason.
Based off of the skilled wingers comments at the end of last season, he wants to remain a Flame, though that could be just lip service. One thing that is for certain is that he will not be entertaining questions regarding his contract situation throughout the course of the 2021-22 season.
“It’s between my agent and [general manager Brad Treliving,” Gaudreau told press. “I probably won’t answer many questions about that this season.”
Since his 2018-19 season where he put up a career high 99 points, Gaudreau has seen his offence drop off the past two seasons, though he did still lead the Flames in scoring in 2020-21 with 49 points in 56 games. If the Flames do end up re-signing him, his contract will likely carry a slightly higher AAV than his current deal, which earns him $6.75 million per year.
Coleman Getting Great Opportunity
The biggest signing the Flames made this offseason was the six-year, $29.4 million deal they gave to Coleman. The 29-year-old comes with plenty of winning experience after helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win back-to-back Stanley Cups. He brings plenty to the table, as he is a solid player at both ends of the ice and adds a ton of speed to the lineup.
Clearly, head coach Darryl Sutter is a fan of Coleman’s as well. Through the first two days of training camp, he was paired with Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk, a line in which could very well be the team’s number one this upcoming season.
“I don’t think I change anything – I think that’s where players get into trouble,” said Coleman, who had 31 points in 55 games last season. “They try to do things that haven’t made them successful in the past. In Tampa, on paper we were the third line – we played 17, 18 and up to 19 minutes a game in the playoffs. Five on five we were one of the most used lines on our team.
“I’m not going to jump onto the first power play and score 15 power play goals probably. My role is not going to change. I’m going to be a good penalty killer and a good five-on-five player. My game is driven and based around compete and forechecking, and smarts in the game. I’m not going to be making backhand, toe-drag plays or anything like that. I’ve been up and down lineups my whole career. I’ve played first line and I’ve played fourth line, which I think is one of my best assets, being versatile.”
Though Coleman has only been in Calgary for a short time, he is saying the right things early on. His accountability is something that many thought this team was missing last season. He could prove to be an extremely valuable asset for the Flames this year, for more reasons than one.
Zadorov Looking Forward to Competing in Canadian Market
Midway through this offseason, the Flames acquired Zadorov from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a third-round pick in 2022. Shortly after trading for him, they were able to get him signed to a one-year, $3.75 million deal. Speaking with media this past week, he discussed playing in a Canadian market, and explained that he is quite excited to do so.
“I played junior in Canada and it was super exciting – playing in London, probably one of the best places for junior hockey in the world,” Zadorov said. “I saw how you guys love hockey, how you are about hockey and pretty much everything is hockey here. It’s definitely exciting.
“People who say they don’t like to play in Canada don’t like the pressure. But I feel there’s pressure in every hockey city… maybe not if you are in Arizona or something.”
Fans will appreciate the honesty in that quote, and this isn’t a one off from Zadorov. He is one of the league’s most outgoing personalities, and isn’t afraid to say what is on his mind. That may be a breath of fresh air for this fanbase, as often times players tend to stick to cliché responses when speaking with media.
Poirier Signs Entry Level Deal
On Friday, the Flames agreed to terms with Poirier on a three-year entry-level deal. Much has been made of the 19-year-old defenceman since he was drafted in the third-round (72nd overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. By all accounts, he had the skill to be a first rounder, but lackadaisical defensive play caused him to slide dramatically.
Through Poirier’s first two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Saint John Sea Dogs, he had a plus/minus of -61 in 125 games. In his defence, he was playing on a very bad team, but those numbers are unacceptable regardless. Thankfully, he was able to improve his defensive play tremendously in 2020-21, while maintaining his offence. In 33 games last season, he scored nine goals and 37 points while going minus three, a giant improvement from each of the prior to seasons.
Poirier is expected to return to the QMJHL for the 2021-22 season, where he will look to put up even better totals but more importantly continue to round out his defensive game. Though he still has a ways to go before becoming an every day NHLer, he is making some very positive strides and looks to be a very solid draft pick by the Flames.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.