According to Elliotte Friedman, after visiting the Calgary area for a feature he’s working on, he couldn’t help but notice a serious vibe surrounding the Calgary Flames, specifically in respect to Johnny Gaudreau.

Friedman admits he didn’t hear anything directly from Flames GM Brad Treliving on the subject so he can’t officially say that Gaudreau is on the trade block or anything, but there certainly is a “sense changes are coming if they don’t finish strong.”

Friedman notes the Flames are happy with young players like Rasmus Andersson — who the Calgary Flames have signed to a six-year contract extension, with a $4.55 million AAV — Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane but not as thrilled with a player like Gaudreau who has been anything but his regular self this season. He’s on pace for just 44 even-strength points and really struggled on the power-play where the Flames have expected him to be much better.

In fact, Gaudreau is on pace for his lowest point totals since his rookie season. And, with two more seasons after this one at $6.75 million per season, it’s difficult to know if Calgary sees this as a long-term issue or not.

For the Flames, they need Gaudreau at his best and if there are whispers surrounding his status with the team, it’s safe to assume there’s some worry that he may not be able to offer that. This comes after speculation earlier in the season that Gaudreau might actually be considered a trade chip.

A couple of months ago, Darren Haynes of The Athletic said, “Yes, perhaps it’s time for general manager Brad Treliving to explore trade possibilities for Gaudreau — one of his most lucrative assets — and not necessarily for futures either. Think: an old-fashioned hockey trade. Two teams changing their mix.”

Since that article, the buzz has quieted down. That is, until Friedman’s report on Wednesday.

Related: Friedman Notes Interesting Trend Heading Into NHL Trade Deadline

Trading Gaudreau Would Be a Mistake

If there’s smoke where Friedman says there is, it’s logical to assume there might be fire. That said, to this writer, trading Gaudreau would be a mistake. As @TrackerFlames pointed out on Twitter, and I can’t help but agree:

Johnny Gaudreau is having the worst year of his career. Yet any game now he will be the leading point getter on the Calgary Flames… but some fans think the team can “manage” perfectly fine without him

Calgary wants to be competitive and the vibe Friedman gets surrounding the team is likely coming about because there are question marks as to how well the team will close out the campaign. But, is it really safe to assume Calgary can get fair value for Gaudreau and that anything they trade him for gives them a better chance to win than he does?

Related: Gaudreau Speculation Out of Calgary Overblown?

The Rasmus Andersson Extension

Clearly, Friedman was right when he said the Flames were thrilled with Andersson as the team signed him to an extension on Wednesday.

Andersson, 23, is in his second full season with the Flames. In 44 games this year, he has recorded three goals and 12 points.