Is it time to put an end to the Johnny Gaudreau trade rumors?

Is it time to stop discussing Johnny Gaudreau in trade negotiations?

Johnny Gaudreau has just wrapped up his seventh full season with the Calgary Flames, a season full of opinions and rumors discussing the possibility of swapping the gifted forward to hit the refresh button for this franchise.

It’s something that wasn’t exclusive to last season, but it’s a repeated story that seems to surface when things aren’t going too well for the Flames.

Calgary seems to be stuck in an unfortunate fever dream where they show signs of being a contender in their division and the league as a whole and then something happens. They have reached a series of games where goals are much harder to find and the rebounds go in the direction of the opponent. In some ways, it’s just hockey. But the ups and downs of this team seem to come at the wrong time again and again, season after season.

So when you have a repeated problem, what do you do? Watch what you are working with. The Flames have made five head coach changes since Johnny Gaudreau joined the team. So head coaching? Most likely a problem, but not the one that is the main cause of the team’s performance.

The Flames have also had a revolving door of goalkeepers who took their place in net during Gaudreau’s career as the Flames, starting with the Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo era and currently including Jacob Markstrom more recently.

In recent months, even seasons, conversations around a possible Gaudreau profession have definitely returned. But if that were to happen, who would they get in return?

The timing may have been in his favor in the past, as other players in the market were not what the Flames were looking for in return. It is quite difficult to replace a key player in your roster without a clear idea of ​​who can replace them. What the conversations about possible exchanges with Gaudreau would have looked like are mostly between the CEOs, and obviously have not resulted in his departure until this point.

Johnny Gaudreau # 13 of the Calgary Flames. (Photo by Claus Andersen / Getty Images)

Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau should no longer be in trade talks

However, there is this overarching narrative that Johnny is destined to return home. He’s originally from Salem, New Jersey and many expect him to become a Philadelphia Flyer at some point. Concretely, it would be the dream of any NHL player to play for the team he encouraged when he grew up.

Gaudreau’s longtime friend Kevin Hayes is also a current Flyer and you can assume Johnny wouldn’t be averse to playing on a team with him. But as Johnny pointed out in year-end interviews, it’s not something he’s explicitly expressed an interest in doing. Asked about the possibility of signing a contract extension this offseason, Gaudreau said:

“I love the city and I don’t think I ever said once that I didn’t want to be here. If that happens this summer, I would be prepared to do it and do it. “

Gaudreau has never been quoted as saying he wants to leave Calgary or that he’s unhappy with the team or the city. He has always been a great activist for the city of Calgary and frequently mentions how much he loves this place. What he says to the media and what he says behind closed doors is his business, but he has never said anything bad about this organization. If you take his words for what they are exactly, he wants to be here.

He also did nothing to urgently demand some sort of deal to get him out of the door either. Gaudreau led the Flames in points in the 2020-21 regular season with 49, and tied Elias Lindholm in goals (19) despite the shortened schedule.

Unless the front office gets an offer they can’t refuse for a top three or six forward, Gaudreau will likely be a Flame next season. However, that can’t necessarily be said for longtime teammate Sean Monahan.

Monahan played the latter half of the season with a hip injury that required surgery in the final week of the season. He has played the last four games against the Vancouver Canucks to recover from the proceedings and has already returned to training this offseason.

He is expected to make a comeback in time for next season, with the NHL returning to a normal schedule for the 2021-22 season. Ottawa news sources reported over a month ago that the Flames were listening to offers for Monahan, making him an option for the Senators or other league teams looking for a new one. center.

Johnny Gaudreau (13)

Johnny Gaudreau # 13 of the Calgary Flames. (Photo by Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

Monahan is by no means playing at the level he was during Johnny / Mony’s heyday. His best season was in 2018-19 where he scored 34 goals and 48 assists for a total of 82 points in 78 games.

However, he’s only scored 10 goals and tallied 18 assists for 28 points in 50 games, which isn’t exactly the numbers you’d expect from your typical leading center. Gaudreau is a playmaker and it’s hard to get points, goals, and wins when your top line doesn’t connect. Many missed passes, scoring opportunities and awkward positioning ended with Monahan in the end.

In the last few games as Monahan recovered, Flames head coach Darryl Sutter gave Gaudreau some time on a line with Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk, and the results were electric. They scored goals in every game and a multi-point performance in the last game of the season. It might be time to go beyond the idea of ​​the Gaudreau / Monahan duo and move on to the duets of the future.

While the majority of the team hesitated on its production this year, Gaudreau still stayed the course. In more advanced stats, his positioning, shot percentage, and high danger shots have shown numbers that should silence all trade rumors. However, you are only as good as the company you keep and the positive underlying numbers are overshadowed by losses and the team’s overall underperformance.

It must be frustrating to be a Flame in any position after this season, but don’t go kick the guys who got you where you are with no evidence to prove it. The pandemic and travel restrictions made it harder for players to call in and trading was not a big part of last season as the player would not be available until 14 days after his quarantine period. It was not a year to buy and sell good players. It’s been a year to work with what you have and see where it takes you.

Gaudreau still has one year on his contract with a cap of $ 6,750,000. Why not let him play? Move the pieces around and see if the problem really lies with his trio mates. If that doesn’t work, it may not be a more important new signing or allowing the aftermath of the pandemic to heal normal league relations and see who lands in the market. Or avoid the commercial conversation altogether.

He’s ready to sign a contract extension, so why not draft it if there’s room in the salary cap? And the Flames are expected to have around $ 14 million in cap space over the next offseason, by the way. Gaudreau hasn’t come out of the woods at all, but he shouldn’t be seen as the biggest commercial hunk going into this busy and busy offseason in the National Hockey League.

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