Johnny Gaudreau Reportedly Won't Return to Flames; Will Be Free Agent

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 13, 2022

CALGARY, AB - MAY 26: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames in action against the Edmonton Oilers during Game Five of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome on May 26, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Oilers defeated the Flames 5-4 in overtime to win the series four games to one. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Derek Leung/Getty Images

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau plans to test the free-agent market, general manager Brad Trevliving told reporters Tuesday.

Calgary Flames @NHLFlames

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Flames?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Flames</a> GM Brad Treliving is speaking with the media this evening regarding Johnny Gaudreau's status:<br><br>"Johnny Gaudreau is going to hit free agency, test the market ... it's a disappointing day to say the very least."

Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff provided additional details:

Frank Seravalli @frank_seravalli

Johnny Gaudreau informed the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Flames?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Flames</a> he will not be returning to Calgary. Emotional conversation for both sides, as the Flames rolled out the red carpet to keep him.<br><br>A massive offer was presented, as we reported, but this wasn't about money.

Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic reported that the Flames attempted to sign Gaudreau, 28, to an eight-year contract extension. Calgary reportedly posted an initial offer of $76 million before upping the ante to over $10 million per season. Seravalli reported the same.

Frank Seravalli @frank_seravalli

My sense is <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Flames?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Flames</a> have put an offer on the table for Johnny Gaudreau - north of $10 mil x 8 years - that would make him not only highest-paid player in Calgary franchise history, but among richest in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHL</a>.<br><br>If Gaudreau walks, it likely won't be because of money.

However, he will now officially become a free agent on Wednesday at noon ET. Gaudreau can still hypothetically return to the Flames, but he would not be able to ink an eight-year deal unless he re-signs with the team before the free-agency deadline.

Per Pierre LeBrun of TSN, Gaudreau is coming off a six-year, $40.5 million contract. The Flames selected the former Boston College star with a fourth-round draft pick in 2011.

Gaudreau's 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists) was tied for second in the NHL last year with the Florida Panthers' Jonathan Huberdeau.

Treliving elaborated on why he believed Gaudreau made the decision to test free agency:

"I can assure our fans that we have done everything possible to keep John in Calgary ... I want to wish him and his family the very, very best. He gave us eight great years here.

"It is my strong belief that this was a family decision and I respect that fully. John has every right and we have nothing but respect for John the player and John the person.

"I firmly believe there's nothing more we could have done. We respect it ... I think this was a real hard decision for John ... I think everybody operated with the right intentions."

That was confirmed by Gaudreau's agent, Lewis Gross:

Elliotte Friedman @FriedgeHNIC

Gaudreau agent Lewis Gross: "The Flames did everything they could. This came down to a family decision."

Darren Dreger of TSN commented on the matter:

Darren Dreger @DarrenDreger

Family always comes first. That applies to tough negotiations and player decisions. No doubt this is a very difficult experience for both Gaudreau and the Flames.

Gaudreau was born and raised in Southern New Jersey. Unsurprisingly, Duhatschek reported that the Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders are thought to be the primary suitors for him.

And with that, Gaudreau joins a loaded free-agent class of 2022 that also includes Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri, Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg and New York Rangers wing Andrew Copp, among others.