Gaudreau joins Blue Jackets on 7-year, $68.25M deal

Posted: 14/07/2022 in NHL
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Johnny Gaudreau is taking his talents to Columbus.

The coveted free-agent star signed a seven-year deal with an average annual value of $9.75 million to join the Blue Jackets, the team announced Wednesday.

The Calgary Flames reportedly offered Gaudreau an eight-year deal with a cap hit of $10.5 million, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, meaning he left nearly $16 million on the table before taxes to join Columbus, per TSN’s Chris Johnston.

“Johnny Gaudreau is a superstar in the National Hockey League, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome him to the Columbus Blue Jackets family,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “He is an elite player with great character that makes the players around him better. We are thrilled to add a player of his caliber to our group.

“This is an exciting day for our franchise, our fans and the city of Columbus.”

Gaudreau will take on the Flames on Dec. 9 in Columbus. He’ll make his return to Calgary on Jan. 23.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving confirmed Tuesday that the talented winger would test the open market. He added that he didn’t anticipate the two sides would make a reunion work.

Treliving also said he believes Gaudreau’s choice to move on from the Flames was a family decision.

The 28-year-old was closely linked to the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils heading into free agency. He grew up in southern New Jersey, near Philadelphia.

The Devils reportedly attempted to acquire Gaudreau’s services with a seven-year offer that carried an average annual value of over $9 million, according to LeBrun.

Kekalainen explained how the deal with Columbus came together.

“He told us this was one of his true primary destinations,” Kekalainen said. “We were like, ‘OK, wow, is this real?’ Once we realized that, yeah, he wants to come here, we got into serious talks.

“We obviously let him know that he was one of the players that we desired the most, and when it got real serious to where he was like, ‘OK, I want to come there,’ then we got it through the finish line pretty quickly.”

Gaudreau is familiar with current and former Jackets players, who helped persuade him to come to Central Ohio.

“I played in the Worlds with Zach Werenski. I’ve known Eric Robinson for like 15-20 years,” Gaudreau told The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline. “And some former guys, like Cam Atkinson and Dalton Prout … those guys were just like, ‘You’re going to absolutely love the place.'”

Gaudreau was due for a substantial raise after playing out the final season of a six-year deal with a $6.75-million cap hit. He potted a career-high 40 goals and 75 assists for 115 points, finishing second in the Art Ross Trophy race behind Connor McDavid. He also ranked fourth in Hart Trophy voting this past season.

In addition to ranking fifth all-time in franchise history with 399 assists and 609 points, he also entered Calgary’s single-season record books in 2021-22. He produced at a 1.4 point-per-game clip, which is the third-best rate in Flames history.

Gaudreau was a scoring threat virtually every time he hit the ice this past season. The Flames controlled 71.6% of the goals and 67.7% of the high-danger goals with him on the ice at five-on-five, according to Natural Stat Trick.

The six-time All-Star brings excellent playmaking ability to Columbus and will punch up the Blue Jackets’ play at five-on-five – he led the league with 90 even-strength points in 2021-22, which is 12 clear of McDavid, who had the second most.

Gaudreau ranks sixth in points and third in assists among all active players since his first full season in 2014-15.

Selected by the Flames in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, Gaudreau suited up for 602 career NHL games, all with Calgary.

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