Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Gaudreau’

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen plans to put his top two weapons on the same line to start the preseason, and both Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau are looking forward to seeing what they can do together.

“I think (Gaudreau’s) probably the best offensive guy I’ve ever had a chance to play with, no offense to anybody that I’ve played with,” Laine said, according to NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika.

He added: “It should hopefully bring out the best in me, and I’m obviously (going to) try to make the best I can to make it work and do what I can on the ice. Obviously, I think we can benefit each other out there.”

Boone Jenner centered the pair of talented wingers on Thursday during the Blue Jackets’ first day of training camp, with Laine on the right and Gaudreau on the left.

“Obviously, (Laine is) a really, really smart player,” Gaudreau said. “He can see the ice really, really well, and his shot’s just off the charts. I kind of see myself as a pass-first guy, so hopefully, I can find him somewhere in the slot or in the zone, and it’ll probably go in if he has a second or two to get the shot off.”

The potentially dangerous duo seems like a fantastic fit. Laine, 24, has an all-world shot and has eclipsed the 30-goal mark three times in his career. Gaudreau, 29, is a talented playmaker who ranked third in the league with 75 assists last season.

Laine has never scored 50 goals in a campaign – the closest he came was in 2017-18 when he lit the lamp 44 times with the Winnipeg Jets – but his odds of reaching that mark should increase substantially with Gaudreau in the fold. Still, the Finnish sniper knows building chemistry takes time.

“On paper, you would think it should work, and obviously, I’m hoping for that as well,” Laine said. “But like I’ve always said, good players always find a way to make it work, and I still consider myself as an alright player, so I’m sure we can find a way to make it work.”

Laine’s production has decreased since the Jets traded him in 2021. He’s potted just 36 tallies in 101 games with the Blue Jackets, while his goals-per-game rate has dipped from 0.46 with Winnipeg to 0.36 with Columbus.

While Laine will look to improve alongside Gaudreau, the Blue Jackets will be hoping for a team resurgence. They finished sixth in the Metropolitan Division last season, amassing a 37-38-7 record and missing the playoffs for a second straight campaign.

Columbus opens preseason play against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sept. 25.

Despite losing Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew TkachukCalgary Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane doesn’t want to hear any excuses next season.

“I think our whole team needs to be maybe 10% better and just grow and build off the season that we had last year,” Mangiapane said, according to Postmedia’s Wes Gilbertson. “Yeah, we lost two good players, but we didn’t lose our whole team.

“I think the majority of guys are still here, and the majority of guys that were here were successful because of who they are. I feel if everyone is putting in the work and growing, this could be a very special year for us.”

Like most of the Flames, Mangiapane enjoyed a dominant 2021-22 campaign with a career-high 35 goals and 55 points in 82 contests. Calgary rewarded Mangiapane for his production by signing the restricted free-agent winger to a three-year pact worth $17.4 million on Tuesday.

Perhaps most astonishingly, Mangiapane filled the net at an impressive rate while averaging just 15:44 of ice time per contest. Among players to score at least 30 goals this past season, Mangiapane saw the second-lowest playing time, ahead of just Florida Panthers forward Anthony Duclair.

Now, the 26-year-old is ready and willing to step into an increased role in the absence of Gaudreau and Tkachuk.

“When two big names at forward both leave, there’s room for players to step up, and that includes me,” he said, per NHL.com’s Ryan Dittrick. “That includes some other players as well. There’s room there, there’s opportunity, and now it’s up to us to fill their spot and continue our own growth, too.”

Mangiapane won’t have to fill in the gap alone, though. The Flames acquired star winger Jonathan Huberdeau from the Panthers as part of the trade package for Tkachuk, and he tallied 115 points in 2021-22.

Selected by the Flames in the sixth round of the 2015 draft, Mangiapane has 132 points in 260 career contests.

Calgary took the top spot in the Pacific Division after posting a record of 50-21-11. The Flames seemed poised for a deep playoff run, but the Edmonton Oilers bounced them in the second round.

It appears Matthew Tkachuk always had his heart set on leaving Calgary, regardless of whether Johnny Gaudreau stayed or not.

“It had nothing to do with it,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving told reporters Saturday, including Sportsnet’s Eric Francis. “Matthew’s decision was not tied to Johnny’s whatsoever.”

Calgary traded Tkachuk, along with a conditional fourth-round pick, to the Florida Panthers on Friday night in exchange for Jonathan HuberdeauMacKenzie WeegarCole Schwindt, and a conditional first-rounder. The deal came just over a week after Gaudreau left in free agency to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Treliving said the trade came together quickly. Reports Wednesday indicated that Tkachuk, a restricted free agent who could’ve become an unrestricted free agent in 2023, informed the Flames he wouldn’t re-sign long term.

“A week ago, this was not a plan that we had,” Treliving said, per The Athletic’s Hailey Salvian. “We were not looking to move Matthew Tkachuk, but we were put in a situation where we had to do the best for the organization.”

Treliving explained the Flames’ situation using a humorous analogy.

“You can crawl into the fetal position and suck your thumb. Or you can deal with it. We’re going to deal with it,” he told The Fan 960’s Pat Steinberg.

However, Treliving quickly dismissed the notion that star players don’t want to play in Calgary.

“The city has taken some body shots,” he said. “Quite frankly, it pisses me off. It’s a wonderful community. We’ve got a top team in the league. People have the right to pick and choose where they want to go, but as a community and organization, we do not have to apologize for anything.”

The Flames are coming off a 111-point season – the second-best in franchise history. Losing Tkachuk and Gaudreau certainly stings, but adding Huberdeau and Weegar should help Calgary remain a contender in 2022-23.

The Columbus Blue Jackets eventually won the Johnny Gaudreau sweepstakes, but this summer’s most coveted free agent admitted he came close to signing with the New Jersey Devils on July 13.

“The day of, I was only really talking to two (teams),” Gaudreau said during an appearance on “Spittin Chiclets.” “I was pretty much signed with a different team, most of the day I hadn’t heard from Columbus, and then all of a sudden they called at like 4 p.m., and I told my agent, ‘I want to go here. Just try to get this done. This is the spot I want to be right here.’

“I was super thankful Columbus called during that late hour in the afternoon,” he added. “I think I was trying to get a deal done with the Devils, and then Columbus called.”

The star winger hails from New Jersey, and the Devils were believed to have offered him a seven-year deal that carried an average annual value of over $9 million, according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.

Gaudreau’s desire to be closer to his loved ones drew him away from the Calgary Flames, but distance ultimately gave the Blue Jackets an edge over the Devils for him and his wife while they expect their first child.

“I always said I wanted to play closer to home, but (Columbus) wasn’t too close to where I’m getting bombarded with friends and family, basically an open-door policy, come in whenever you want,” he said. “That’s the way we kind of are down the shore here. … If we did it all year, I think it would’ve gotten a little out of hand at times.”

Gaudreau ultimately opted to sign a seven-year, $68.25-million pact with the Blue Jackets. The 28-year-old said he was surprised by how much his decision shocked the hockey world and by the negative reaction from some Flames fans.

“I didn’t think I was gonna get it as bad as I have,” he said. “I obviously thought there was gonna be some fans not happy, but I didn’t think I was gonna hear about it as much as I have.

“I get it, they’re a very passionate fanbase … they love their Flames, and the city of Calgary loves hockey. I understand it’s been hard on a lot of people, but I still love that place. … It sucks having to leave. I wish them all the best, and hopefully, they can get over it soon here.”

The talented playmaker had a spectacular end to his tenure north of the border thanks to a stunning 2021-22 campaign that saw him crack the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career. Among Calgary’s single-season records, his 75 assists and 115 points this past campaign both rank second in team history.

Gaudreau sits fifth all-time in the Flames’ record books with 609 points in 602 games.

Johnny Gaudreau has answered the question on every hockey fan’s mind: Why the Columbus Blue Jackets?

“I’ve gotten to play here many times, and every time it’s a lot of fun to play here,” Gaudreau said Thursday at his introductory press conference. “There’s a good, young group here, and that attracted me too. Me and my wife thought it was a really good fit for us. … It was somewhere that I had circled on my list for a while now.”

Gaudreau, this summer’s biggest free agent, sent shockwaves across the hockey world by signing a seven-year, $68.25-million deal with Columbus on Wednesday. The move ended a 9-year stint with the Calgary Flames, who reportedly offered more money.

For Johnny Hockey, the decision came down to a desire to be closer to home.

“I always dreamed about playing a tad closer to home,” Gaudreau said. “It didn’t matter where I was signing. I think our decision was it was best for us not to go back to Calgary. Then we decided what to figure out, what the best option (was) for us, and Columbus was right up at the top of the list.”

Gaudreau hails from New Jersey. The Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, and New York Islanders were all believed to be in the mix for his services, but Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said he couldn’t turn down the opportunity to add a player of Gaudreau’s caliber.

“We’re usually pretty careful on the first day of free agency,” Kekalainen said. “When this opportunity was in front of us, we were not careful at all. We went right for it.”

Columbus has long been labeled an undesirable destination for players, especially after the star trio of Artemi PanarinSergei Bobrovsky, and Matt Duchene elected to walk away from the club in free agency in 2019.

“I get a rash every time I hear the negative comments about Columbus. It’s so unfair,” Kekalainen said.

The Blue Jackets missed the playoffs this past season, their first under new head coach Brad Larsen. Gaudreau arrives with the mindset that the club is ready to be competitive again.

“I didn’t come to Columbus to check out the views,” he said. “I came here to win hockey games.”

Gaudreau should instantly make the Blue Jackets a better team. The 28-year-old has notched 609 points in 602 career games, including a personal-best 115 last season with the Flames.

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.

Calgary Flames assistant general manager Craig Conroy isn’t concerned about signing pending unrestricted free agent Johnny Gaudreau to an extension.

“That’s a done deal; we’re going to get that done,” Conroy told “Boomer in the Morning” on Sportsnet 960.

Gaudreau is enjoying his best season. He leads the Flames in assists (44) and points (64) through 49 appearances. Gaudreau’s 1.31 points per game is a career high, while he also leads the NHL with a plus-41 rating.

The Flames project to have $27 million in cap space for next season, according to CapFriendly. However, Calgary has several players on expiring contracts, including key restricted free agents Matthew TkachukAndrew Mangiapane, and Oliver Kylington.

Gaudreau’s current contract – a six-year pact signed in 2016 – contains a $6.75-million cap hit.

Johnny Gaudreau has his eyes set on a new contract with the Calgary Flames.

Gaudreau, who’s set to enter the final year of his deal next season, indicated he’s willing to sign long term if management presents a suitable offer.

“If Tree (general manager Brad Treliving) and the owners are happy with the way I’ve played, it’s something we can figure out,” Gaudreau said, according to Sportsnet 960’s Pat Steinberg. “I would love to do that. I love the city. I don’t think I’ve ever once said I don’t want to be here.”

Gaudreau, 27, has spent his entire NHL career with the Flames since being selected 104th overall in 2011. He previously signed a six-year, $40.5-million contract with the club in 2016.

Calgary hasn’t been able to find much success over Gaudreau’s tenure. The Flames reached the second round of the playoffs during Gaudreau’s rookie season in 2015, but they’ve failed to make it past the first round since. They’ve missed the postseason three times.

Since joining, Gaudreau leads the club with 494 points in 520 games.

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After watching on from the press box as his team was eliminated from the postseason, Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk is coming to the defense of his star teammates.

“The thing that really frustrates me right now, especially with being out and watching the games and having nothing to do so being on my phone and just being in the bubble, everything is about hockey … I couldn’t believe some of the criticism that some guys on my team were getting for this,” Tkachuk said, per Sportsnet. “Especially the criticism towards Johnny (Gaudreau) and Monny (Sean Monahan), it makes me sick. It really upsets me and pisses me off.

“Everyone was upset about them for offensive production. Well, they produced more offense than me. So put the blame on me. I didn’t do nearly enough to help get this team over the top when I was in the lineup, and that’s what hurts the most.”

The Dallas Stars bounced the Flames in six games, marking the third time in four years that Calgary failed to advance past the first round.

Tkachuk, who was injured in Game 2, missed the team’s final four contests. In six total games this postseason, the 22-year-old managed one goal and one assist.

Monahan and Gaudreau came under fire from fans and the media following the club’s elimination. Monahan totaled two goals and six assists in 10 games, while Gaudreau scored four goals and added three helpers.

“It really upsets me to see some of the criticism to those guys, being unbelievable players and great players in this league, and even more important, great friends,” Tkachuk continued. “But I think as leaders and as core players and in general, myself mainly, but our best players didn’t do enough to get us over the top and into that next round and into a run. And that’s frustrating.”

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Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving came to the defense of his star winger Thursday and squashed rumors suggesting Johnny Gaudreau had been separated from the main group at training camp for disciplinary reasons.

“The groupings that we have on the ice have no conditioning issues or are not done for disciplinary issues. … I want to dispel that notion,” Treliving said, according to Postmedia’s Wes Gilbertson.

Gaudreau has skated in a smaller group of nine players since the start of training camp Monday. Flames head coach Geoff Ward said the split was due to “circumstances that became apparent last week,” according to Gilbertson.

The Flames GM praised the level of Gaudreau’s game after speculation that the 26-year-old entered camp with poor conditioning.

“Johnny Gaudreau has never looked better,” he said, per TSN’s Jermain Franklin. “To focus on one guy is completely unfair. … I can’t speak high enough to the work level that Johnny has put in.”

The 5-foot-9 forward’s production sharply declined this season. Gaudreau played at a 21-goal and 67-point pace over 82 games after notching a career-best 36 goals and 99 points in 2018-19.

Calgary is slated to meet the Winnipeg Jets in a best-of-five play-in series beginning Aug. 1.