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Gaudreau Sweepstakes: Have the Islanders Jumped the Flyers?

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Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau
Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau (Photo-via Calgary Flames Twitter)

The talk on Calgary Flames pending unrestricted free agent Johnny Gaudreau is that there were three teams, if he were to test the market (Wednesday), that would be lining up to acquire his skillsets. Those three teams were believed to be the New Jersey Devils, the Philadelphia Flyers, and the New York Islanders.

And Johnny Gaudreau is testing the market.

The Calgary Flames offered Johnny Gaudreau an eight-year deal worth $9.5 million annually. And remember, teams can spend 10% over the salary cap of $82.5 million (so add $8.25 M to each team’s cap space).

He said no and now will test the market. It’s not about the money for him.

Johnny Gaudreau was born and raised in Salem County, New Jersey. The Devils are a team on the rise with talents like Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Dawson Mercer and could use a player like Gaudreau to get them back to being a competitive force.

On the other hand, Gaudreau grew up a Philadelphia Flyers fan, and as New York Islanders fans have seen in the recent past, the issues between leaving your longtime club to return home. You know who I am referring to…

Now for the New York Islanders. There has been no information from Lou Lamoriello or management that the Islanders are active in the Gaudreau sweepstakes. Still, in a conversation I had with a highly connected hockey person during my time in Montreal, he believes the New York Islandes are a dark horse.

It was always going to come down to money.

That’s why the Philadelphia Flyers may be out of the conversation because they do not have the financial space to take on his next contract.

In Sam Cardichi’s latest with Philadelphia Hockey Now, he dove into the money factor.  And it’s not a pretty sight if you are a Flyers fan. One lousy contract after another is why they may lose out on the gifted player.

The Flyers, per CapFriendly, only have $118,560 in cap space ($8.36 M and change with 10%), with a handful of contracts needing to be moved to make a Gaudreau signing remotely possible.

The Philadelphia Flyers are placing Oskar Lindblom on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout and will be saving $3.33 million once the buyout occurs. They would then have $3.5 million in space.

They could make it work, with a buyout and the use of LTIR, and Gaudreau is from Philadelphia so hometown discount?

Per a league source, the Philadelphia Flyers are trying to move three players to create cap space: Travis Konecny, James Van Riemsdyk, and Ivan Provorov.

It seems unlikely that Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher could pull it off.

The New Jersey Devils have $25,334,167 in cap space as of now ($33.584 and change with 10%). Even with four restricted free agents to sort out, they have the most money to spend as of n w. And general manager Tom Fitzgerald is not shy of making big splashes, like when he signed Dougie Hamilton to a seven-year deal last offseason.

What about the New York Islanders?

Per CapFriendly, the New York Islanders have 11,185,037 in salary cap space ($19.435 M and change with 10%) as of now, with contracts to Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov to bring that number down. Merely speculation here, but if Dobson gets $4.5 million a year, Romanov receives $2.5 million a year, which leaves the Islanders with $4 million to play with.

A contract would always have to be moved to create the space for Gaudreau.

Josh Bailey and his $5 million (in full) would give the Islanders $9 million. Could New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello move Bailey’s contract and even another?

Again, the numbers above are just educated guesses.

Remember, Lamoriello also has to sign the remaining RFAs who were given qualifying offers as of Monday: Kieffer Bellows, Arnaud Durandeau, and Parker Wotherspoon.

Every dollar does count.

Johnny Gaudreau has until 11:59 on Tuesday night to sign for that eighth year with the Calgary Flames. The question is, will he? And then the follow-up question is, how much does Gaudreau care about winning because if he does, logic points to one team being in the best position to win in 2022-23.

But Gaudreau’s deal will likely be a seven-year deal, so winning in 2022-23 is not the be-all and end-all of his signing. Which team is set up for a bright future?

The Philadelphia Flyers are trying to clear cap space and story will be updated with each move they make.

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