Considered the most attractive free agent for July 13, Johnny Gaudreau may not take advantage of his autonomy.
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On Saturday, a few days after the Calgary Flames were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, the 28-year-old forward revealed that he wanted to stay with the Alberta organization.
"I've been here for 11 years and I haven't reached my ultimate goal," said Gaudreau, whose comments were reported by the National League website.
"It's been a while since they [the Flames] won the  Stanley Cup. I think it would be very special to win a cup here. It's something I've dreamed of since I was a kid and Calgary is a great place to do it."
Gaudreau played the last year of a six-year contract that earned him $6.75 million annually in 2021-22. He should get a sizeable raise, having just had the best campaign of his career. In 82 games, he amassed 40 goals and 75 assists for 115 points.
In his end-of-season report, Gaudreau sent flowers to Flames fans.
“I like amateurs. I like the city. I've never had a moment where I thought, 'I've had enough,'" said Calgary's fourth-round pick (104th overall) in the 2011 draft.
"My neighbour, I'm sure he's been clearing my driveway all year for me to decide to come back next year. When I go to Starbucks or restaurants, everyone is so welcoming and expressing me that they want me back. That's great. That's what I want to hear. That's what I want people to think of me and want me on their team. It's a little intense at times, but it's good to hear. I love that."
All season, Flames general manager Brad Treliving has claimed he wants to find common ground with Gaudreau on a new contract. He has not changed his tune since the elimination of his team against the Edmonton Oilers.
"We want him to be a member of the Calgary Flames," said the GM. He has been since the beginning of his career. I think he has the opportunity to be one of the greatest players in the history of this organization. That's saying something when you consider the players who came before him."
Treliving has until July 13 to offer an agreement that will satisfy Gaudreau and allow him to continue to wear the colors of the Flames.