The Calgary Flames face a pretty big dilemma this upcoming off-season, as they will have to empty their pockets for three of the top players on the team, and one of them might not even make it to the July 13th free agency start date with the Flames. With just over $30,000,000 in cap space for the 2022/2023 season, will Calgary be able to bring these guys back?
1. Andrew Mangiapane, Left/Right Wing
25-year-old Andrew Mangiapane, fresh off a breakout season with the Flames this year where he potted 18 goals and 32 points in 56 games, while being a proficient two way forward in the National Hockey League, finishing 2nd on his team in blocked shots amongst forwards, will be looking to add some extra cash to his pockets, as he will be a restricted free agent when his 2 year, $4,850,000 contract with an annual average salary, or AAV, of $2,425,000 expires this summer. On top of an impressive season in North America with the Flames, Mangiapane travelled overseas to Latvia to compete in the IIHF Men’s World Championship, where he represented Team Canada and won the tournament MVP award, by putting up 4 goals and 4 assists for 8 points in only 4 games.
While there is little to no fear of Mangiapane walking to free this upcoming summer, as he will be an RFA, the length and term for his new contract will be a highly debated topic. Possible contract comparables for Mangiapane could be the likes of New York Islander Kyle Palmieri’s 4 years, $5,000,000 AAV if a longer-term deal cannot be resolved, or Mangiapane could seek a longer-term, but higher AAV contract like Edmonton Oiler Zach Hyman’s contract of 7 years, $5,500,000 AAV if a longer-term does come to play. My prediction for Calgary’s resident breadman, however, is 6 years, at $5,250,000.
2. Matthew Tkachuk, Left/Right Wing
Pending restricted free agent, Matthew Tkachuk is coming off a down year, at least by his standards, albeit in a shortened season. His 16 goals were 4th on the team and his lowest total since his rookie season. Despite the down year, the 23-year-old troublemaker did what he does best, and led the Flames in penalty minutes drawn, drawing an impressive 53 penalty minutes, which was good for 5th in the league, behind some impressive names like Connor McDavid and his brother Brady Tkachuk. Matthew Tkachuk will be coming off a 3 year, $21,000,000 contract, with an AAV of $7,000,000. Across the first 2 years of his contract, he has been very impressive, posting 23 goals and 61 points in 69 games in 2019/2020, plus an additional 1 goal and 1 assist in 6 playoff games that year while drawing a total of 82 penalty minutes. He will be looking to beat both of his last two years stats to earn a well-deserved pay raise.
Much like Mangiapane, he will be an RFA come July 13th, so unless he is offer sheeted and Flames GM Brad Treliving chooses not to match, he’ll remain with the team. Tkachuk’s next contract can go many ways, as they can choose to go short term and have him once again expire as an RFA, or go long term, 8-year contract. If they choose to once again go short term as they did with his current contract, then his next contract could look a lot like Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson, who signed a 3 year, $7,350,000 AAV contract only days ago. If Tkachuk and the Flames would like to dedicate themselves to a long term contract and break the Flames’ bank, then it could look much like Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point, who signed an 8 year, $9,500,000 AAV contract, which adds up to $76,000,000 across those 8 years. However, a slightly less expensive contract comparison of the same term could be Andrei Svechnikov’s 8 year, $62,000,000 contract, with an AAV of $7,750,000. Either way, Matthew Tkachuk will be looking for a pay raise that’ll put a lot of pressure on Treliving’s back. My prediction for Tkachuk’s next contract will be that of the longer term, being an 8 year, $8,500,000 AAV contract that totals up to $68,000,000 total.
3. Johnny Gaudreau, Left Wing
The backbone of the Flames for the last half-decade is coming off of his 5th year of a 6 year, $6,750,000 AAV contract, where he has, for the second straight season, failed to meet the point per game pace he had held the two seasons before that. In Gaudreau’s last two seasons, he has put up 37 goals, and 107 points in 126 games, a pretty noticeable step down from the 60 goals and 183 points in 162 games. However, his decline in production isn’t necessarily his fault, as luck and poor coaching decisions regarding lineups have resulted in the 28-year-old playing with players who are either injured or aren’t up to his elite level of play. This has included career 4th liners and depth pieces like Buddy Robinson and the infamous Brett Ritchie, who have put up a total of 9 points in 46 games between the both of them. Trade rumours have also plagued Gaudreau the last 2 seasons, and even now, as teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and even the last-place Buffalo Sabres have been involved in trade rumours regarding Calgary’s star winger.
Unlike the two prior pending free agents, who both had RFA status and could be qualified by the Flames, Johnny Gaudreau has UFA status, which is short for unrestricted free agent, and could walk to any team that shows interest in him. Johnny Gaudreau’s last two years may have hurt his contract value, so don’t expect any team to sign him to a $10,000,000+ contract like the stars of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens down east. Instead, expect a contract more like Sean Couturier’s 8 year, $7,750,000 AAV. My prediction for Johnny Hockey’s next contract? 7 years, $7,500,000 AAV, which totals up to $52,500,000 across those 7 years.