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What We Learned: Can't just hope players will re-sign with you

People in Calgary are still stunned, hurt, and confused.

Johnny Gaudreau left town, choosing to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets as a free agent instead of staying with the Flames. OK, we all knew that was a possibility. But in doing so, he left millions of dollars on the table and spurned his only NHL team for one that, traditionally, no one has really wanted to play for that long.

But his new club has faced the same problems. It went all-in to win a single playoff round in 2019 on the obviously foolish hope they would be able to convince Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovski (and to a lesser extent Matt Duchene) to stick around beyond their extant contracts. That didn't happen, and it forced the Blue Jackets into something of a rebuild.

Now, the media that covers the Flames are more or less openly saying, "Brad Treliving cannot let this happen to him again."

The question looming for the Flames is what they are going to be able to do with restricted free agent and star winger Matthew Tkachuk. Rumors have persisted for years that he will go to his hometown St. Louis Blues at the earliest opportunity. 

It's a rumor, admittedly, peddled largely by some within the St. Louis media, but the fact remains that if Tkachuk won't commit to Calgary long-term, as Gaudreau wouldn't once the 2021-22 season began, the reality is that he will have the option to test the open market. He's a year away from unrestricted free agency, and for the Flames to lose two franchise wingers for nothing in less than a calendar year would be grounds for Treliving's dismissal.

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This article is about:
NHL Calgary Flames Columbus Blue Jackets Winnipeg Jets NHL Johnny Gaudreau Artemi Panarin Matthew Tkachuk Kevin Cheveldayoff Jarmo Kekäläinen Brad Treliving
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