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Departure from Gaudreau, Tkachuk, Mangiapane and more

In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, Johnny Gaudreau shocked the hockey world by choosing to sign as a free agent with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Meanwhile, many believe the 28-year-old’s departure could lead to a swap deal for Matthew Tkachuk in the near future. In other news, Andrew Mangiapane, Oliver Kylington and Matthew Phillips have filed for salary arbitration. Finally, general manager Brad Treliving opted to replace Trevor Lewis and Nikita Zadorov, while also signing Kevin Rooney.

Gaudreau on his way to Columbus

As free agency approached, it became increasingly clear that Gaudreau was likely leaving the Flames organization. Although he said how much he loved the city at the end of the season, it had been rumored for some time that he would like to try playing closer to his hometown of Salem, New Jersey. For this reason, the two teams considered the favorites to sign the star winger were the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers. That wasn’t the case, however, as he instead made a decision that caught everyone off guard.

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)

That decision was to sign a seven-year, $68.25 million deal with the Blue Jackets, an organization that, while closer to home, is still quite a ways off. Even more surprisingly, in his first press conference with his new club, he said that Columbus was a team he had been considering for some time, without ever going into specifics. He didn’t divulge much when asked why he chose to leave Calgary, which frustrated many fans.

After a 115-point season, it was undoubtedly a blow for the Flames to lose Gaudreau. That said, he’s earned the right to test free will, as well as the right to go where he thinks is best for him and his family. Hopefully, over time, Calgary fans will be able to look back and appreciate all the good he did over his eight seasons.

Tkachuk decision imminent

Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of talk that if Gaudreau actually chooses to leave, Tkachuk may soon follow. Although he’s not fully in control of his future right now given he’s a restricted free agent, he doesn’t have to sign a long-term contract. If he really wanted to, he has the option of just signing a one-year deal with the Flames and then becoming a free agent next year.

Related: Johnny Gaudreau’s departure leaves the flames in a horrible place

Tkachuk himself has not said anything publicly about his intentions. However, if the Flames brass knows now, or learns in the near future, that he has no intention of signing long-term, it would be best if he moved on. Coming off a career-best 104 points, his value is sky-high right now, which means Treliving could net him a big boost.

File of the 3 Flames for Arbitration

On Sunday, it was announced that Mangiapane, Kylington and Phillips had all requested salary arbitration. This means that none of these players will be able to accept their qualifying offers. Hearings for all three are scheduled to take place between July 27 and August 11.

Mangiapane, 26, will undoubtedly command the most lucrative deal of the three. He has improved tremendously over the past few seasons and is coming off a career high 35 goals and 55 points. He will likely command a deal with a cap hit north of $5 million.

Calgary Flames Andrew Mangiapane
Andrew Mangiapane, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)

Kylington, 25, was really a question mark heading into training camp last season as to whether or not he would make the team. Not only did he do that, but he managed to have a very solid season, scoring nine goals and 31 points in 73 games. While still prone to untimely errors, he has become an important part of this team’s backline.

Phillips, 24, is currently in a very strange position in his career. Despite consistently posting big numbers in the American Hockey League, he hasn’t made it to the big club, having played in just one NHL game in his career so far. Last season he scored 31 goals and 68 points in 65 games for the Stockton Heat, who both led the team. That said, he won’t earn much on a contract until he gets the chance and then proves he can be an everyday NHL player.

Flames add depth

Although free agency didn’t go as Flames fans would have hoped, Treliving was able to add depth to their roster for the 2022-23 season. In a somewhat surprising move, he opted to re-sign Lewis to a one-year, $800,000 contract. The 35-year-old played in 80 regular season games in 2021-22, registering six goals and 16 points. He also appeared in 12 additional playoff games where he had two goals and five points.

Another re-sign Treliving was able to make was Zadorov, who was rewarded with a two-year extension that will earn him $3.75 million per season. The 27-year-old guard played pretty well in the Flames’ third lineup of 2021-22, scoring four goals and 22 points in 74 outings.

Treliving also brought in free agent Kevin Rooney to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1.3 million. The 29-year-old undrafted center played 61 games for the New York Rangers last season where he scored six goals and had 12 points while averaging just under 14 minutes of ice time per game.

Waiting for the flames

Although Gaudreau is gone, that doesn’t mean the Flames are out when it comes to signing a highly sought-after free agent. Nazem Kadri is still available and has been linked with the Flames, while John Klingberg also remains available at the back. Neither player would make up for losing Gaudreau, but it would certainly help soften the blow and is worth watching for fans.