The Calgary Flames enter the off-season without their two brightest offensive stars, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, locked up to new deals. But GM Brad Treliving doesn’t see any cause for concern, as he believes firmly that he’ll find a way to get the two young scorers, currently pending restricted free agents, under contract.
In speaking with CalgaryFlames.com’s Torie Peterson, Treliving said that he’s still working diligently on getting contracts in place for Gaudreau and Monahan. That it’s taking so long isn’t worrying Treliving, either, because signing two players who look like they’ll have long, successful careers in Calgary was always going to take time.
"As everybody knows, those are two top young players for us that need new contracts,” Treliving told Peterson. “Sometimes these take a little bit of time. This is not unusual, that we're sitting here at this time and they're not done…We'll continue to bang away at it. We've got to get to something that makes sense for them and for us…I have every confidence that we will."
One thing likely making the negotiations difficult is finding the middle-ground between salary and term. It would be far from surprising if the Flames wanted to lock up the duo to matching eight-year deals, but where they come in on the financial side of things is made more difficult when Gaudreau has the higher ceiling. And there’s a good chance Calgary wants to announce the signings around the same time, much like how the Chicago Blackhawks announced they had locked up Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to matching contracts at the same time.
It’s not as though the Flames are dealing with a lack of cap space that makes signing their dynamic duo tricky, though. The salary cap limit for the upcoming season has yet to be announced, but projections put it slightly below $73 million. That would leave the Flames with roughly $23 million in cap space for the upcoming season, per CapFriendly, but Calgary does have to be aware of leaving space to operate in free agency and lock up pending RFAs Jyrki Jokipakka and Sam Bennett. That’s not to mention several of the RFAs eligible for free agency this off-season.
Beyond locking up Gaudreau and Monahan, though, Treliving also has to take a look at signing or trading for a starting netminder — the current Flames starter would likely be rookie David Rittich, as RFA Joni Ortio is still without a deal — and find a way to improve his team’s bottom-six. That’s also going to cost money that will eat into Calgary’s cap space. But it doesn’t feel as though the Flames can make any real progress this off-season if it doesn’t start with the signings of Gaudreau and Monahan.
As that pair goes, so, too, will the Flames. To Calgary, Gaudreau and Monahan are Toews and Kane, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, the Sedin twins — the cornerstone players that the Flames’ successes will be shaped around. Contracts are coming, Treliving is sure, but it may simply take more time and negotiating before Calgary can get those deals finalized.