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What Next For the Calgary Flames In The Post-Gaudreau Era?

The Calgary Flames and their fans are still reeling from Johnny Gaudreau's surprising decision last week to sign with the Blue Jackets. His departure prompted speculation over how they'll address the loss of their leading scorer.
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The Calgary Flames and their fans are still reeling from Johnny Gaudreau's surprising decision last week to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets. His departure prompted speculation over how they'll address the loss of their leading scorer.

Calgary Hockey Now's Steve Macfarlane and the Calgary Sun's Wes Gilbertson suggested the Flames sign free agent Nazem Kadri. With $18.4 million in cap space, they have sufficient space to make the 31-year-old center a lucrative long-term offer.

Kadri, however, rejected a trade to the Flames by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019. He could have other destinations in mind.

MacFarlane also included Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and free-agent winger Nino Niederreiter among his “Plan B” suggestions.

Kane, however, carries a $10.5-million cap hit into 2022-23 along with a full no-movement clause. Assuming the 33-year-old superstar accepts a trade to Calgary, the Blackhawks will likely seek an expensive return. There's also the risk of his departure next summer via free agency.

Niederreiter, meanwhile, is a reliable 20-goal scorer. He'd be more affordable than Kadri or Kane but won't sufficiently replace Gaudreau's production.

Gaudreau's departure could affect the Flames' contract talks with Matthew Tkachuk. The 24-year-old restricted free agent winger is a year away from UFA status.

Given their plentiful cap space, the Flames can afford a lucrative long-term deal for Tkachuk. However, TSN's Salim Valji suggests shopping him if there's any hesitation on the winger's part to make that commitment. They cannot risk losing another star for nothing to free agency.

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