In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, Johnny Gaudreau shocked the entire hockey world by choosing to sign as a free agent with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Meanwhile, many believe the 28-year-old’s departure could lead to a Matthew Tkachuk trade in the near future. In other news, Andrew Mangiapane, Oliver Kylington and Matthew Phillips have filed for salary arbitration. Last but not least, general manager Brad Treliving chose to re-up both Trevor Lewis and Nikita Zadorov, while also signing Kevin Rooney.
Gaudreau Headed to Columbus
As free agency neared, it became more and more clear that Gaudreau was likely leaving the Flames organization. Despite him stating how much he loved the city at season’s end, it had been rumored for some time that he would like to try and play closer to his hometown of Salem, New Jersey. Because of this, the two teams that were viewed as the favorites to sign the star winger were the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers. That wasn’t the case, however, as he instead made a decision that caught everybody way off guard.
That decision was to sign an seven-year, $68.25 million deal with the Blue Jackets, an organization that, while closer to home, is still quite a ways away. Even more surprising was that, in his first press conference with his new club, he expressed that Columbus had been a team he was considering for quite some time, though never dove into specifics. He didn’t divulge much when asked why he chose to leave Calgary, which as a result has many in the fanbase quite frustrated.
Coming off of a 115-point season, it was no doubt a major dagger for the Flames to lose Gaudreau. That said, he earned himself the right to test free agency, and also the right to go wherever he believes will be best for him and his family. Hopefully, in time the Calgary fanbase can look back and appreciate all the good he did during the course of his eight seasons.
Tkachuk Decision Looming
In recent weeks, there has been plenty of chatter that if Gaudreau did in fact choose to leave, Tkachuk may soon follow. While he doesn’t hold full control of his future right now given the fact he is a restricted free agent, he doesn’t have to sign a long-term deal. If he really wanted to, he has the option to just sign a one-year contract with the Flames, and would then become a free agent next year.
Tkachuk himself hasn’t said anything publicly as to what his intentions are. However, if the Flames brass knows now, or learns in the near future, that he doesn’t intend to sign long-term, it would be better off if they moved him. Coming off of a career-best 104-points, his value is sky high right now, meaning Treliving would be able to get a major haul back for him.
3 Flames File for Arbitration
On Sunday it was announced that Mangiapane, Kylington and Phillips had all filed for salary arbitration. This means that none of these players will be able to accept their qualifying offers. The hearings for all three are expected to take place between July 27 and Aug. 11.
Mangiapane, 26, will without a doubt command the most lucrative deal of the three. He has improved in a major way in recent seasons and is coming off of a career-best 35 goals and 55 points. He will likely command a deal with a cap hit north of $5 million.
Kylington, 25, was very much a question mark heading into last season’s training camp as to whether or not he would make the team. He not only did that but managed to have a very solid season, registering nine goals and 31 points in 73 games. While he is still prone to untimely mistakes, he has become an important part of this team’s back end.
Phillips, 24, is in a very strange spot in his career right now. Despite continuously putting up big numbers in the American Hockey League, he hasn’t gotten a shot with the big club, playing just one NHL game in his career to this point. This past season, he scored 31 goals and 68 points in 65 games for the Stockton Heat, both of which led the team. That said, he won’t earn much on a contract until he both gets the chance and then proves that he can become an everyday player in the NHL.
Flames Add Depth
Though free agency didn’t pan out the way any Flames fans would have hoped, Treliving was able to add some depth to his roster for the 2022-23 season. In a somewhat surprising move, he chose to re-sign Lewis to a one-year, $800,000 deal. The 35-year-old suited up for 80 regular season games in 2021-22, registering six goals and 16 points. He also played in an additional 12 playoff contests where he managed two goals and five points.
Another re-signing Treliving was able to make happen was that of Zadorov, who was rewarded with a two-year extension that will pay him $3.75 million per season. The 27-year-old rearguard played quite well on the Flames’ third pairing in 2021-22, scoring four goals and 22 points in 74 outings.
Treliving also brought in free agent forward Kevin Rooney on a two-year deal with an average annual value of $1.3 million. The undrafted 29-year-old centerman suited up for 61 games with the New York Rangers last season where he tallied six goals and 12 points while averaging just under 14 minutes in ice time per game.
Looking Ahead for the Flames
Though Gaudreau is gone, that may not mean the Flames are out when it comes to bringing in a highly sought-after free agent. Nazem Kadri is still available and has been linked to the Flames, while John Klingberg also still remains available on the back end. Neither player would make up for the loss of Gaudreau, but it would certainly help soften the blow and is worth monitoring for fans.
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: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, 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.