Flames held hostage in negotiations with Gaudreau, Tkachuk
There was a hostage situation in Montreal. As the Calgary Flames brass prepped for as boring a night as one can find in that city, they were peppered with questions about the two players who make any other action impossible.
Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk have Flames GM Brad Treliving hog tied (sorry, it’s Stampede time in Calgary) and don’t appear ready to loosen the twine just yet.
Here’s what we know. Both players have been given long-term offers with hefty compensation numbers. Gaudreau’s is guesstimated between $76 and $80 million. Tkachuk is due a $9M qualifying offer as a restricted free agent, so he’s looking at $70M-plus himself.
The Calgary Flames’ first 100-point pair in more than three decades have the team’s manager and fanbase twisted in knots but helpless to do anything more until rejection is confirmed.
No answer at all might be the only thing worse than a no when you’ve made a pitch to a potential prom date.
“We want to sign both players. We’ve made long-term proposals to both players. We’ve tried to do everything to get them signed. Ultimately, the player’s got that decision to make,” Treliving told Sportsnet 960 before the first round began.
“We just continue to work at it.”
Treliving met with Gaudreau’s agent
Without a counter-offer to work with, there’s really not much work that can be done by the Flames management team. With only three picks in the 2022 NHL Draft and none in the first round, Treliving met with Lewis Gross – Gaudreau’s agent – on Thursday but reportedly got no more clarity on his client’s decision-making process.
Meanwhile, rumours were flying that the New Jersey Devils offered up a package for Tkachuk that included the second-overall draft pick.
We tend not to put too much stock into draft day rumours without multiple sources, and Treliving’s words made the point moot anyway.
He’s got a one-track mind for Gaudreau and Tkachuk.
“From our end, our only objective is that we want to sign them. If that becomes not feasible, then you pivot,” Treliving said. “Just so everybody’s clear, the only place we’re spending our calories right now is trying to get both these players signed to long-term commitments.
“We’ll continue down that path until told otherwise.”
The sooner, the better as far as the Calgary Flames are concerned. Not that they have any control of it.
Could Flames consider trade market?
As hard as it would be to pivot from one or both of these players, their rights would be valuable on the trade market.
Exclusive rights for another team to negotiate with Gaudreau ahead of next week’s free agency blitz could fetch an asset or two.
Tkachuk, who is on the verge of restricted free agency, would bring in a huge haul on the trade market no matter when that deal might be executed.
For now, though, it’s Limbo.
Treliving will surely have a backup list ready in case he needs to make an early splash in free agency to make up for the loss of the best offensive playmaker they’ve had since Theoren Fleury. Those types of guys will quickly find new homes, however, come July 13th.
Aside from top dollar, there’s not much Treliving can offer to sweeten the pot.
Keeping those players with NHL coach of the year Darryl Sutter would bode well for a chance to return to the second round of the playoffs.
Maybe he can dangle a couple of letters as incentive, too — Gaudreau with a permanent ‘A’ and Tkachuk with the vacant ‘C.’
The rest is up to the players.
And the wait is a killer.