Last season’s performances from Calgary Flames forwards Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau were huge for those two players. They cemented their status as dynamic youngsters capable of putting up big points at the NHL level, and they were equally important for Calgary’s run to the Western Conference Semi Finals. Both players’ performances this season will be under the microscope as they are in the final year of their contracts and there is plenty of pressure on the Flames to improve on their 2014-15 success.
Monahan has a little more experience than Gaudreau, with two seasons under his belt to Gaudreau’s one, despite being a year younger than “Johnny Hockey.” Monahan, a centre from Brampton, ON, turns 21 in October and was one of only 10 NHLers to hit both the 30-goal and 30-assist mark last season (31 goals, 31 assists in 81 games). He and Gaudreau meshed well on a speed-filled top line along with veteran Jiri Hudler. Monahan, Calgary’s sixth-overall pick in 2013, stands at 6 foot 2, 185 pounds and had three goals and six points in 11 playoff games.Gaudreau, a native of Salem, NJ, took the collegiate route to the NHL, spending three seasons compiling massive point totals with Boston College. In his final year in 2013-14 he recorded 36 goals and 80 points over 40 games, winning the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top collegiate player. Calgary’s fourth-round pick (104 overall) in 2011 excelled on left wing last season, compiling 24 goals and 64 points in 80 games. Gaudreau shut up anyone critical of his 5-foot-9, 150-pound frame by being one of the most exciting and effective players to watch throughout 2014-15.
Both Monahan and Gaudreau will be centerpieces in the Flames lineup for a long time, and as such, both will command serious salaries once their entry-level contracts expire after this season. How much moolah are we talking? Here are a few players we can take a look at to get an idea of the cap hits Monahan and Gaudreau will command for years to come.
Johansen, centre for the Columbus Blue Jackets, just played his first season since his ELC expired. The Blue Jackets and Johansen didn’t actually reach an agreement until just before the regular season started (Johansen missed training camp), but the two parties ultimately landed on a three-year bridge deal worth $3 million in 2014-15 and 2015-16, and $6 million in 2016-17, with an average annual value of $4 million.
Johansen, who scored 26 goals and added 45 assists last season, and had 33 goals and 30 assists in the final year of his ELC, will surely haul in a larger salary than even the $6 million he’ll command in 2016-17 on his third contract. Johansen, who stands at 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, has more size than Monahan, but definitely one of the more comparable centres to look at when it comes to contract negotiations. If the Flames and Monahan go for a bridge contract, it could be similar to the one Johansen is on. If they choose to go long-term, you can bet Monahan will carry a cap hit north of $4 million.
Colorado Avalanche left winger Landeskog went straight from the ELC to the long-term deal, and carries an AAV of $5,571,428 (thanks, General Fanager). Like Johansen, 2013-14 was the final season on Landeskog’s contract.
The deal signed by the Swede who became captain of the Avalanche as a 19 year old (which made him the youngest-ever captain in the NHL) is a good template for what you might see with Gaudreau and Monahan if they are locked up long-term. Landeskog has been between 52 and 65 points in all three of his non-lockout-shortened seasons. His ELC finished with a 26-goal, 39-assist season.
A third player we can use to get a general idea of how much the Monahan and Gaudreau will make is the recent Blue Jackets addition, Brandon Saad. Saad, a left winger out of Pittsburg, PA, is just about to start the first of six years on his second contract, which carries a hit of $6 million.
The 6-foot-1, 204-pound second-round choice (43 overall) had a career-high 52 points (on 23 goals, 29 assists) last season playing for the Chicago Blackhawks. Saad’s trade to Columbus, that saw seven players and a pick switch teams, surprised quite a few, as he’d been a big part of Chicago’s success in the regular season and playoffs since he came into the league full-time in 2012-13.
Based off these contracts, long-term deals for Monahan and Gaudreau in the neighbourhood of $5.5 to $6.5 million seem probable, especially with lots of other talent that’ll be commanding sizable salaries for years to come. Of course Monahan and Gaudreau aren’t the same player, but both are close in age and play very large roles in the future of the franchise. It wouldn’t be a complete shock if they did what Blackhawks stars Johnathan Toews and Patrick Kane, or Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, or Wild stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter did at some point, and sign contracts with the cap hit.
If Monahan and Gaudreau can repeat their performances from last season, or improve upon them, they’ll be paid like the Flames’ cornerstone forwards they are.