Johnny Gaudreau, $8 million man?

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Here’s the latest on the Johnny Gaudreau-Calgary Flames contract impasse, from Eric Francis:

The Calgary Sun has learned the chasm between what the Flames are offering their franchise player and what Gaudreau’s camp is looking for is $1.5 million annually.

Sources say Gaudreau’s agent, Lewis Gross, is asking for a payday in the $8-million range while the Flames are pushing to pay between what Sean Monahan signed for ($6.375 million annual average value) and what captain Mark Giordano makes (a team-high $6.75 million AAV).

Gaudreau, a restricted free agent, finds himself in a unique situation. He hasn’t played enough games for arbitration rights and he’s also ineligible to sign an offer sheet with another club.

Translation: Calgary wields a pretty big stick in negotiations.

Still, that hasn’t (reportedly) stopped Gross from gunning for a massive payday. The AAV would make Gaudreau one of the highest-paid forwards in the game, putting him alongside Phil Kessel, Jakub Voracek, Ryan Getzlaf, Claude Giroux, Steve Stamkos, Corey Perry, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the $8 million-or-more-per-season club.

Gaudreau is still only 23 years old, so the pricetag could be seen as an investment for a future star. And it’s important to remember he did finish sixth in the NHL in points last season, with 78.

Still, one has to wonder if the Flames will buckle and make Gaudreau their highest-paid player. Giordano is the clubhouse leader and captain, and Monahan is regarded as one of the best young centers in the game.

One also has to wonder how much Gross is willing to come off that $8 million ask.