In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, pending free agent, Johnny Gaudreau told reporters he is very open to returning to the organization. Meanwhile, restricted free agent Matthew Tkachuk said he hopes to remain a Flame for a long time. In other news, Chris Tanev battled several injuries during this year’s playoff run, and will undergo surgery in June. Last but not least, many have criticized Darryl Sutter’s coaching versus the Edmonton Oilers in round 2, including former NHLer John Scott.
Gaudreau Open to Staying in Calgary
With his six-year, $40.5 million deal having expired, Gaudreau’s future as a Flame is very much up in the air. The 28-year-old is coming off of the best season of his career with 115-points in 82 games, meaning he is in line for a huge pay raise. With that said, he seems more than open to getting that pay raise from the Flames rather than another team in free agency.
“It’s all I’ve known for the past 11 years and it’s kind of a big decision here and I’m just going to try to figure out what’s best for me and my family and go from there,” Gaudreau said.
“But Calgary is a special place for me and I do really, really love it here.”
Flames general manager Brad Treliving has made it clear on several occasions over the past year that he is going to do whatever it takes to ensure Gaudreau remains with the organization moving forward. However, there have been plenty of rumors for years now that the star winger may have interest in playing closer to home, whether it be with the Philadelphia Flyers or the New Jersey Devils. We will likely have to wait sometime before knowing what decision he has made.
Tkachuk Hopes to Remain a Flame Long-Term
The other big free agent on the Flames this season is Tkachuk, albeit he is restricted. Like Gaudreau, the 24-year-old had himself a career year with 104-points in 82 contests. He finds himself on an expiring three-year deal that carried a cap hit of $7 million, and will also be in line for a significant raise. Make no mistake, however, it sounds as though the only team he is interested in being with is the Flames.
“Absolutely,” Tkachuk said when asked about signing a long-term deal with the Flames. “I’ve loved it here. I’ve grown up here.
“I’d be very open to that.”
Similar to Gaudreau, there have been rumors that Tkachuk would like to play in St. Louis, which is where he grew up. That said, he seemed genuine in his desire to remain with the Flames, something the fanbase would love to see happen. If he indeed were to sign a lengthy extension, many believe he would have the honour of being the team’s new captain.
Tanev Battled Significant Injuries in Playoffs
Though players like Tkachuk, Milan Lucic, Nikita Zadorov, and Andrew Mangiapane were all said to be battling injuries in the playoffs, no one went through anything nearly as significant as Tanev. The 32-year-old is said to have played the final three games versus the Oilers with a torn labrum, a separated shoulder and a sprained neck.
It was evident watching Tanev’s final few games that he was gutting it out every shift, though to his credit he still played at a very high level. After the series, he told reporters that he will be having shoulder surgery in the coming month.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Tanev said. “After the surgery, I’m sure that our medical staff will have more of an update on how it went and more of an exact time frame maybe, I don’t know. Four to six months is kinda big but that’s what I’ve been told.”
Since joining the Flames as a free agent during the 2020 offseason, Tanev has been their best shutdown defender. With two more years remaining on his contract, the hope is that he will be able to fully recover from the injuries he sustained in the playoffs and will return to the level he has played at in each of the past two seasons.
Darryl Sutter Criticized for Playoff Management
During the 2021-22 season, there was arguably no better head coach in the NHL than Sutter. In fact, not only was he named a Jack Adams Award finalist, but he is considered by nearly everybody to be the frontrunner. That said, many grew confused at some of his tactics throughout the playoffs, particularly in round 2 versus the Oilers where he seemed to have no interest in line matching against Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl despite the fact they were putting up big numbers every night.
Not only were some fans confused with Sutter’s tactics, but a former player in John Scott voiced his bewilderment as well. In fact, the former enforcer went as far as to say the Flames bench boss was flat out outcoached.
“The biggest reason why the Flames lost this series is because of Darryl Sutter,” Scott said. “He got flat-out outcoached.”
Scott went on to say he couldn’t believe that Dan Vladar didn’t see some time in the crease after it became clear Jacob Markstrom had no answer for the Oilers top guns, and also questioned what Michael Stone was doing on the ice late in a tied Game 4 after having played less than five minutes all game long. He did go on to state that Sutter is a great coach, but believes his stubbornness to try and change things up in this series was the Flames ultimate downfall.
Looking Ahead for the Flames
With their playoff run ending shorter than most had imagined, the Flames now enter an offseason with plenty of questions. Leading the way are the contract statuses of Gaudreau and Tkachuk, but two other notable restricted free agents in Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington will require pay raises as well. Safe to say, it will not be a quiet summer for Treliving.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.