In our NHL rumor rundown article on Tuesday, we referenced Darren Haynes of The Athletic’s post that asked a question a lot of fans in Calgary might be thinking. ‘Is it time for the Flames to consider trading Johnny Gaudreau?’ In that article, he wrote:
It feels like something of significance has to happen with this club soon to change the core… shake up an underperforming group and also salvage this season. Perhaps the place to start is the guy who is struggling the most, yet would also command a significant return. Yes, perhaps it’s time for general manager Brad Treliving to explore trade possibilities for Gaudreau…source – ‘Is it time for the Flames to consider trading Johnny Gaudreau?’ – Darren Haynes – The Athletic – 11/18/2019
Haynes mentions that the trade, if it takes place, would likely not be a trade for futures but “an old-fashioned hockey trade” where two teams swap difference-makers in the hopes a change of scenery helps both sides.
I don’t have insider information like Haynes does, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that this type of trade makes sense for a couple of reasons.
The Ultimate Flames Panic Trade
Haynes made a number solid arguments that the Flames should seriously consider a deal like this. Yet, it seems crazy to think that a team would move arguably its best forward when the chips are down.
The Flames might believe a shake-up is in order, and sure, Gaudreau arguably provides the best return, but what kind of return are the Flames expecting?
I posed this question on social media and the most common response was Taylor Hall out of New Jersey. Talent-for-talent, this makes sense. Contract wise? Not so much. If the Flames were to trade Gaudreau for Hall and Hall didn’t re-sign at the end of the season, that would be a nightmare scenario for the Flames. Even if Hall stayed, the Flames would need to find another $3-plus million to fit him in. Hall is just one example.
So too, every GM knows the Flames are freaking out right now. Having lost five-straight games and now sitting outside a playoff spot, making a trade at such a low point and so early in the season screams panic. No GM will offer what Gaudreau — a point-per-game player over the past two seasons — is actually worth. GM’s who make these types of deals increase the odds of being terminated exponentially.
Never trade your best player when you know you’re going to get fleeced: that’s GM’ing 101.
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Where Will Flames Find as Friendly a Contract?
Consider too, Gaudreau is not overpaid. A $6.75 million cap hit over the next two seasons beyond this one, as salaries rise, Gaudreau is going to be considered a value deal in today’s NHL landscape, if he isn’t already. There aren’t a lot of those types of contracts floating around in the trade market.
Teams who employ players on good deals don’t typically want to move them. As such, Calgary stands to get a player back that hurts their team salary cap structure much more than Gaudreau does.
Again, why would Calgary do this?
Related: Flames’ Crease is Becoming Rittich’s
Fan Backlash Would Be Swift
There is frustration in Flames Nation these days. With that frustration comes quick sentiments that the fans would be ok with moving Gaudreau if it helped the team. That’s a sentiment I believe the fans (and the organization) would come to regret.
Gaudreau is a marketable commodity in Calgary. He’s the most exciting player on the team and while it can be argued Matthew Tkachuk is the future of the organization, losing Gaudreau would mean removing the flashy, often-brilliant and highlight-reel qualities a player like Gaudreau provides. Gaudreau sells tickets, plain and simple.
I’m not suggesting this trade is impossible. I’m just guessing that we don’t see it this season. And, should we, I firmly believe the Flames will wish they hadn’t taken such a route to try and get themselves out of a funk.