In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, there has been no progress toward a Johnny Gaudreau extension, making it seem more and more likely that he will indeed hit the free agency market. Meanwhile, Matthew Tkachuk’s name was involved in some trade rumours during the 2022 NHL Draft, though those reports now appear to be false. In other news, Andrew Mangiapane, who is also in need of a contract, recently spoke about his draft experience. Last but not least, the Flames selected three players at the draft, each of whom will be discussed further below.
Gaudreau Likely to Test the Market
As of Tuesday at 10 p.m. MT, the Flames will lose the right to offer Gaudreau eight years on a new contract extension. That extra year would be a huge benefit in hopes of bringing him back, but the 28-year-old doesn’t appear to be interested. In fact, he doesn’t seem all that interested in re-upping at all, at least at this time. According to Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, there hasn’t been any progress in negotiating a new deal.
On the open market, it’s believed Gaudreau will fetch a seven-year deal with an average annual value between $9-10 million. The Flames have reportedly been willing to give him a similar deal with an eight-year term, but to this point, he has not accepted that deal. While it remains to be seen, he is likely to hit the free agency market, where he will have a ton of potential suitors.
As to where Gaudreau could end up, there has been plenty of chatter that the Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders are all viewed as frontrunners. Of course, the Flames remain in that mix too, but it’s feeling much less likely that he stays now than it did just weeks ago. If he does indeed choose to leave, general manager Brad Treliving will need to seriously contemplate the direction he wants to head with his team moving forward.
Tkachuk Discussed in Possible Trades
Ahead of the 2022 draft, which took place from July 7-8, there were several reports that the Flames were considering moving Tkachuk. Like Gaudreau, the 24-year-old does not have a contract in place for the 2022-23 season but is a restricted free agent, meaning it would take quite a haul for any interested team to acquire him.
Several refuted these reports afterward, stating that the Flames’ only goal is to get Tkachuk signed to a long-term deal. While the talented winger said recently he loves playing in Calgary, his interest may decrease if the club isn’t able to bring back Gaudreau. If that is the case, you can expect there to be plenty of interest, as he is coming off of a career-best 104 points.
Mangiapane Reflects on Draft Experience
It seems each time at the draft, the focus goes specifically to the players taken in the first round. It makes sense, given that they are the top prospects available at the time and plenty of them go on to have great careers. However, there is no denying that being taken in the first round gives them an easier route compared to players taken later on. One Flames forward in Mangiapane, who was passed on in his first draft-eligible year and drafted in the sixth round of the next, discussed how difficult the draft experience can be for some. (from ‘Joshua Clipperton: Calgary Flames’ Andrew Mangiapane recalls NHL draft rollercoaster,’ Global News 07/05/22).
“It was tough,” Mangiapane said when it came to being passed over his first time eligible. “It was tough to be at that draft and not be selected.”
Instead of moping, however, Mangiapane went back after his first draft-eligible year and put up 43 goals along with 104 points with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. Despite the great season, however, he was very hesitant to attend the draft in fear of going through the same experience as a year prior. Thankfully, his family was able to convince him otherwise.
“It was in Florida, so they said, ‘We’ll make it a trip. We’ll go out a week early and just spend time in the hotel and on vacation and just go to the beach,’” said Mangiapane.
As the draft day rolled on, it appeared the same thing was occurring again. The now-26-year-old had to sit through 165 picks before finally hearing his name called by the Flames. After all the frustration, he was relieved to finally be off the board.
“It was an awesome feeling,” he explained. “It was worth it.”
Not only was it worth it for Mangiapane, but it was worth it for the Flames too. While it took a bit of time, he has turned into one of their most productive offensive forwards. The 2021-22 campaign saw him score a career-high 35 goals and 55 points, which has him in line for a big payday this offseason. While the statuses of Gaudreau and Tkachuk are the most talked about contract situations in Calgary at the moment, getting Mangiapane re-upped is extremely crucial as well.
Flames Select 3 at 2022 Draft
It was a rather quiet draft day for Treliving and his staff, as they had just three picks at this year’s event. Their first came in the second round (59th overall), with Topi Ronni being their selection. The 18-year-old Finnish forward appeared in 19 games in the SM-Liiga this past season, registering two goals and four points. He has great size at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, and is a very responsible player at both ends of the ice. The hope now is that in the next few years, his offensive game will be able to improve. If so, he has potential to be a very solid middle-six centerman for the Flames down the road.
Next up is Parker Bell, who the Flames selected in the fifth round (155th overall). Like Ronni, Bell has a big frame at 6-foot-4, 192 pounds. In 64 games this past season with the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League, he scored 18 goals and 49 points and is a player considered to have a very high ceiling thanks to his great on-ice work ethic.
Last but not least is Cade Littler, who the Flames took in the seventh round (219th overall). Treliving and his staff clearly came into this draft with an emphasis on big bodies, as the 17-year-old stands at 6-foot-3, 197 pounds. He spent the 2021-22 season playing in the British Columbia Hockey League with the Wenatchee Wild. In 50 regular-season games, he managed 20 goals and 45 points. Though he is a long-term project, there is plenty of promise with him. While the belief is he will head back to the Wild for one more season, he is committed to Mankato State for the 2023-24 campaign.
Looking Ahead for the Flames
With free agency set to begin on Wednesday, the biggest thing to watch right now involving the Flames is the status of Gaudreau. If they are able to re-sign him, they will head into the 2022-23 campaign as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders in the West. If not, Treliving will have to make some very difficult decisions.
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.