MONTREAL -- Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving struck an optimistic tone on Friday when discussing superstar Johnny Gaudreau remaining with his team rather than hitting unrestricted free agency next week.
"If I didn't think that it was possible, then we'd probably have turned our attention somewhere else," Treliving said. "That's not to say that it's a slam dunk. But when you think that there's a deal there to get done, you keep working at it."
Gaudreau, 28, is the biggest potential name on the free-agent market, which opens for business July 13. He had 115 points in 82 games last season, including 40 goals. Gaudreau has finished fourth in the NHL MVP voting twice in the past four years. He's played his entire nine-year career with the Flames, who drafted him fourth overall in 2011.
Gaudreau just completed a six-year, $40.5 million contract that Treliving handed him in 2016.
Treliving was asked if the current state of play was that Gaudreau was open to returning to Calgary but wanted to see what other teams could offer.
"I wouldn't categorize it like that," he said. "I think both sides are focused on trying to get a deal. These things take time. Johnny's a really good player. There's going to be a lot of attention. I think it's real genuine on both sides to try and get a deal done. My hope is that we're going to get something done before it gets to that."
As free agency nears, NHL front offices are formulating contingency plans. The Flames are no different.
"You look at all the options," Treliving said. "But again, our focus is on Plan A. Until such time as Plan A isn't a reality, we'll focus on it. The only focus is trying to get him signed."
The Calgary general manager said the process is playing out as expected for a star talent like Gaudreau, and that the ticking clock to free agency hasn't made him any less optimistic.
"I'm always optimistic," he said. "I think I'm a pretty optimistic guy by nature. There's a process to it. What I've found in our business is that deadlines push decisions. We're creeping up on one. But I genuinely think that everybody's heart's in the right place. We want to get the player signed. He wants to be in Calgary. But they're big decisions. They're life decisions.
"If he doesn't sign with us, he's earned the opportunity to look at the market. That's something he's got to consider. For us, it's just trying to get our player signed."