Calgary Flames News & Rumors: Giroux, Bettman, Gaudreau & More

In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, reports are surfacing that the team may be interested in acquiring Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. In other news, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is committed to having the team remain in Calgary despite the arena deal being called off. Meanwhile, Flames director of scouting Tod Button recently spoke about the strategy he and his colleagues used to draft Johnny Gaudreau in the fourth round. Last but not least, prospect Rory Kerins has been turning heads lately with a fantastic season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

Flames Have Interest in Giroux

Recently, former NHL goaltender and now analyst for Daily Faceoff Mike McKenna was asked about who he believes the Flames’ number one trade target ahead of the deadline is. His answer was Giroux of the Flyers, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the season’s end. Given the Flyers’ struggles in 2021-22, they likely look to move their captain, though acquiring him won’t be easy.

Claude Giroux Philadelphia Flyers
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Not only does Giroux have a cap hit of $8.275 million, but he also has a full no-movement clause meaning he decides his destiny and would have to approve of a trade to any team. Whether or not the Flames, who aren’t viewed by most as a true Stanley Cup contender, would be of interest to Giroux is unknown. What is known, however, is that the team needs more scoring from players not named Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, and Matthew Tkachuk, and Giroux, who has 15 goals and 32 points in 42 games this season, would certainly help in that department.

Bettman Says Flames Committed to Calgary

Recently, an arena deal between Flames owners and the city of Calgary was nixed, causing some concern over the team’s future. However, Bettman says the team will not be moved anywhere, and he expects a new deal to get worked out down the road.

Related: Revisiting 3 Bold Predictions for the Flames 2021-22 Season

“The Flames are committed to Calgary,” Bettman told reporters. “They’re a vital part of the community.”

Bettman did, however, express concern in regards to the Saddledome and made it clear that it is going to need upgrades in the near future to continue having NHL games played out of it.

“My only concern, and it’s not a short-term concern, but a long-term concern…the Saddledome needs work, which the city’s going to have to put a bunch of money into. I think the sooner people figure out how to get a new arena, the better it will be.”

Construction on a new building was set to begin on Dec. 31, but the city and team could not come up with a final agreement to make that happen. Despite the deal falling through, Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek recently expressed optimism that a new deal would get worked out between the two sides in the future.

Flames Strategized to Draft Gaudreau

Looking back, it is absolutely shocking to realize that Gaudreau wasn’t selected until the fourth round (104th overall) of the 2011 draft. His 548 career points, which have come in just 562 games, ranking fourth in his draft class, indicating he should have been a very highly sought-after player in the early stages of the first round. However, size concerns and some great strategy from the Flames scouting staff led to him being taken in the middle of the draft.

Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Button, the Flames director of scouting, explained that he and his colleagues made it seem like they had zero interest in Gaudreau. In fact, they made it sound like they thought it was crazy for anyone to select the now 28-year-old. (from ‘Kristen Anderson: How all-star Johnny Gaudreau became fourth-round pick of Flames by mind games at 2011 NHL draft’, Calgary Sun, 02/06/22 ).

“Someone’s going to take THAT little guy?” questioned Button. “What a waste of a pick.”

They went as far as not to ask questions about Gaudreau and not to search for much information on him. Anything they could do to look not interested, they did. Button explained their thought process for this.

“For two reasons,” said Button. “We knew where he was from – the East Coast. And, at the time, Pete Chiarelli was the GM of Boston, and he had ownership in the Dubuque (Fighting Saints) team (where Gaudreau played in the USHL).

“We didn’t want anyone to know we had interest in him.”

The rest, as they say, is history. The Flames took the undersized forward in the fourth round, and less than three years later, he made his NHL debut. He has since gone on to win a Lady Byng Award and is on pace for his first-ever 100-point season in 2021-22. He is one of the better draft steals the NHL has seen in recent memory.

Kerins Impressing in OHL

Speaking of great steals in drafts, the Flames may have another in Kerins. The 19-year-old was selected in the sixth-round (174th overall) in the 2020 draft and has been on fire with the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL this season, putting up 26 goals and 71 points in just 41 games. As a result of the big year, many are starting to take notice, including the Flames director of player development Ray Edwards.

“I think the biggest thing is the confidence that he’s playing with,” said Edwards. “He has the ability to slow the game down and make plays because he has that confidence. There’s no play that he can’t make. He’s not afraid to make any play. And his execution is at a very high rate. He’s at a point where he’s playing with the highest confidence, and obviously, the production drives that. It’s the chicken and the egg.

“But it’s no question he’s playing at a level that’s very, very impressive.”

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Kerins is doing this despite hardly playing at all in 2020-21. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OHL’s season was canceled entirely, leaving Kerins nowhere to play. He was able to get in five games with the Stockton Heat in the American Hockey League, but that was it. Thankfully, it didn’t stunt his development as a prospect at all, and with this big season, he is right up there with some of the top ones in the Flames organization at the moment.

Up Next for the Flames

Coming off the All-Star break, the Flames have a few more days of rest before they take on the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night. They will then play the Toronto Maple Leafs the following evening before facing off against the New York Islanders on Saturday. They will be looking to hunt down the Anaheim Ducks, who currently sit five points ahead of them in the third spot of the Pacific Division.


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