After a dismal 2019-20 campaign in which he posted a career-low in points and took a step back even on a per-game basis, Calgary Flames star forward Johnny Gaudreau looks like his old self early on this season. Gaudreau recorded a point in each of the Flames’ first nine games and has six goals and eleven points total through ten games. With Gaudreau’s elite production back, last year’s trade rumors have all but dried up, writes Sportsnet’s Ryan Dixon. Even at a 68-point full-year pace last season, Gaudreau’s $6.75MM AAV contract was a value. However, there was considerable discussion about moving him in the case of his scoring touch continuing to fall off over the remainder of the contract. There was also a lot made of Gaudreau’s connection to the Philadelphia Flyers, his favorite team while growing up in New Jersey, and whether he simply desired a move out of Calgary. However, now that he is back to point-per-game scoring, there seems little chance that Gaudreau is going anywhere before his current contract expires after next season. While there are many who will continue to speculate that Gaudreau will leave for Philadelphia as a free agent – Dixon also notes the possible fit with the New Jersey Devils – he appears to be back in good graces with the Flames and their fans and the organization will do all it can to retain the dynamic forward for as long as possible.
- While the trade rumors are quiet when it comes to Gaudreau, it is the exact opposite for teammate Sam Bennett. Bennett is on the block and while the Flames have said they will take their time with a potential deal, his healthy scratch for the team’s last game somewhat betrays that idea. Whether or not Bennett has formally requested a trade out of Calgary remains unclear, there is seemingly universal agreement that the clock is ticking on the current relationship between he and the Flames. What everyone is not in agreement on however is what the Flames may be looking at in return – or more specifically who. New York Rangers defenseman Anthony DeAngelo is the only trade target rivaling Bennett on the rumor mill right now and it is easy to see how the two teams may be interest in some sort of swap of the two outcasts. Bob McKenzie was the first to report that Calgary was interested in DeAngelo, but this was refuted by Flames beat writer Eric Francis. The pendulum has now swung back the other way, as The New York Post’s Larry Brooks has responded directly to Francis, stating the contrary. Not only does USA Today’s Vincent corroborate Brooks’ side of the story, he adds that the Rangers are also equally interested in Bennett. While the trade is unlikely to be a simple one-for-one due to salary discrepancy, there could be more to a potential Bennett-DeAngelo swap than some may have initially believed. Either way, both players seem destined for new teams sooner rather than later.
- While head coach Geoff Ward has not yet disclosed his plans for Saturday night’s lineup, per Sportsnet’s Pat Steinberg, he may have no choice but to put Bennett back in. Derek Ryan, who has been invaluable as a bottom-six contributor to the penalty kill and face-off dot so far this year, suffered a finger injury in the Flames’ last game. While the team initially hoped that it was a minor injury and believed Ryan would not miss much time, Ward told the media that Ryan saw a specialist and has been diagnosed with a fracture. Depending on the location and severity, a finger fracture can take two-to-eight weeks to heal. There is currently no timeline for his return and someone will need to take his place in the starting lineup for the time being. Bennett, who is capable of playing a physical, energy role, is the best candidate, so if he is scratched again it will only serve to strengthen the argument that the Flames are protecting their trade asset for a forthcoming deal.