NHL rumors: Johnny Gaudreau says goodbye to Flames, hello to Flyers?

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Gaudreau says goodbye to Flames; one insider says Flyers are his 'top choice' originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Johnny Gaudreau parted ways with Calgary late Tuesday night, informing the club of his plans to hit unrestricted free agency Wednesday.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving spoke with the local Calgary media, making the news public.

"It is my strong belief that this was a family decision and I respect that fully," Treliving said to reporters.

As free agency begins today at noon ET, all eyes will be on Gaudreau, who is easily the top free agent on the market.

Will he come home to the Flyers?

ESPN's Emily Kaplan reported that the Flyers are "Gaudreau's top choice" but the club needs to clear money.

The Flyers bought out Oskar Lindblom's contract to clear $3.33 million in space, as our Adam Hermann covered Tuesday. However, if the Flyers want to add a player the caliber of Gaudreau, who could demand upwards of $9 million a year, they'll need to make more room with a move. There could be different ways to do it. But it won't be easy. The Flyers currently have $5 million or more committed to six forwards apiece.

"If we want to be really aggressive in free agency, then we have to get creative," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said June 29. "It’s just how aggressive we want to be and how aggressive can we be, that may dictate how many transactions we have to make. This is the best we have been for a few years at least in terms of we're cap compliant. If we go away for the summer, we've got a hockey team, we're good to go. It’s just how aggressive do we want to be."

If you're a Flyers fan hopeful for Gaudreau, there are some decent signs to them landing the dynamic, high-scoring winger coming off of a 40-goal, 115-point season. Everyone knows he's from South Jersey, played at Gloucester Catholic High School and grew up a Flyers fan. He's close friends with Kevin Hayes and the two had a dominant year playing together at Boston College. He also has a connection to Tony DeAngelo, a fellow South Jersey native.

But obviously that's not everything. As the GM of Minnesota, Fletcher was aggressive to ignite interest in the Wild. In the summer of 2012, there was a go-for-it mentality.

Will he have the same mindset in this spot with the Flyers, who are trying to rebound from a 25-46-11 season? His club has various needs. Gaudreau, of course, would fill a nice number of them. But it will take more subtraction and a major price for the soon-to-be 29-year-old.

Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli believes the Flyers, Devils and Islanders will be candidates for Gaudreau. He also didn't rule out the potential for a mystery team. The Athletic's Kevin Kurz, who covers the Islanders, said two sources told him they believe the Devils are front-runners for Gaudreau. One of those sources was not optimistic about the Flyers.

All the free-agent talk will soon turn to action. Knowing the Flyers, they'll be busy — and you never know.

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