What more can be said?
The Blue Jackets have signed Johnny Gaudreau.
In a move that will shock fans and the entire NHL world, a team that didn’t appear to be close to rumors that the world’s biggest fish in free agency made that Wednesday, inking the near-iconic NHL winger with a high score to a seven-year contract worth $9.75 million a year.
How big of a snag for general manager Jarmo Kekalainen?
There have been some great players donning union blue over the years. There’s the man whose number 61, Rick Nash, hangs from the rafters of the Nationwide Arena. There’s Sergei Fedorov, who was one of the best players on and off the ice before he came to Columbus. There’s Sergei Bobrovsky, who delivered NHL trophies to the capital.
But Johnny Gaudreau?
The man’s name is Johnny Hockey. What more can be said?
If you want to look at the numbers, there are plenty that can excite you. He is a points-per-game player at the NHL level, scoring 609 points in 602 games in nine seasons with Calgary. Over the past eight seasons, only five NHL players — Connor McDavid, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Leon Draisaitl and Brad Marchand — have scored more points.
Gaudreau is also coming off his best season in the league, posting a 40-75-115 line that puts him tied for 15th in the NHL in goals, third in assists and tied for second in points. (he also launched a league-best plus-64 rating as well as the most dominant line in hockey with Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk). He also got the job done in the playoffs, posting 14 points in 12 games.
Kekalainen isn’t known to be the biggest fan in the free agent market, but it’s the kind of deal that’s just too good to pass up. At 28, there should be plenty of gas left in Gaudreau’s tank, as it’s the kind of contract that will likely age well.
With such a big move, there will likely be more moves, simply because of the salary cap implications of the move. The signature brings the jackets closer to the top of the cap, with another big fish — Patrick Laine of course – yet to sign with tenders Emil Bemstrom and Nick Blankenburg. Somehow something has to give.
But that’s a problem for another day. The Blue Jackets made the biggest signing in franchise history and immediately announced their reload was in overdrive.
Enjoy it, 5th line.