Blue Jackets get Johnny Gaudreau


The Columbus Blue Jackets hit a home run on Wednesday. They agreed with forward Johnny Gaudreau.

« Johnny Hockey », as he is nicknamed, will pocket an average annual salary of $9.75 million for seven seasons.

« I’ve played here several times and every time I play here, it’s very pleasant, » Gaudreau said Thursday. Supporters are involved. There is a lot of atmosphere in the arena. I was really excited about that. They have a good young group here, that’s also something that attracted me. My wife and I thought it fit well with what we were looking for. We looked at a few options, but I think this is the best one for us depending on where we are in life. That made the most sense. »

The 28-year-old forward led the Calgary Flames and finished second in the NHL last season with 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists) in 82 regular season games. He led the NHL in plus-64 and set career highs in goals, assists, points, game-winning goals (8) and shots (262).

Gaudreau, who led the Flames in Stanley Cup Playoff scoring with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 12 games, grew up in New Jersey and wanted to be closer to home.

“I always wanted to play a little closer (to home). I grew up in the east, not in Columbus, but on the east coast, Gaudreau said. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to play. I ended up in Calgary for 8-12 years from the time I got drafted. I’ve always dreamed of playing a little closer to home. But the place where I was going to sign did not disturb. We decided it was best for us not to return to Calgary, and then we tried to figure out what the best option was. And Columbus found himself at the top of the list. Whether it was close to home or not, that was the team I had a crush on. »

Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said the team got to work when they realized signing Gaudreau was a possibility.

« We had to do some math and look at a few other details and then we all agreed that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sign a player of this caliber who wants to come and play. here, Kekalainen said. He was obviously coveted by several teams. We had followed him very often with our screening staff. We continued discussions with his agent and it was settled rather quickly when we realized that both parties wanted the same thing. It was a deal that had to be made and we were able to get him under contract.

“Johnny Gaudreau is a National Hockey League superstar, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome him to the Columbus Blue Jackets family. He is an elite player with a lot of character that makes the players around him better. We are excited to add a player of his caliber to our squad. This is an exciting day for our team, for our fans and for the city of Columbus. »

The Flames tried to sign him until the last hour, but GM Brad Treliving had to throw in the towel on Tuesday night.

« It’s a disappointing day, to say the least, » Treliving said at the time.

« I spoke to you, the local media, at the end of our season, and I believe I told you that: ‘We would move heaven and earth [pour nous entendre avec Gaudreau] »I can assure our fans that we have given everything to keep Johnny in Calgary. I wish Johnny, his family, his wife Meredith — he will be a dad in the next few months — I want to wish the best to his whole family. He’s given us eight great seasons here, great memories. It’s tough. The hard part of this industry is that you have to move on. »

Drafted by Calgary in the fourth round (104th overall) in 2021, Gaudreau has 609 points (210 goals, 399 assists) in 602 regular season games with the Flames and ranks fifth in assists and points as well as ninth in goals in Flames history.

Gaudreau has 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists) in 42 playoff games.

« It was a tough decision, » admitted Gaudreau. It was almost 11 p.m. the day before the free agent market opened when I decided I wouldn’t be back. It was really a tough decision, but (my wife) Meredith and I had been talking about it for quite a while. It was difficult, but it was in our best interests. We were really excited to sign a contract in Columbus. They were one of the few teams we had interest in and when they called we couldn’t stop smiling. It was exciting. »

The Blue Jackets (37-38-7) finished sixth in the Metropolitan Division last season, 19 points behind the Washington Capitals and the second-place fourth ace in the Eastern Conference.

« Players of this caliber aren’t often available, » Kekalainen said. He wanted to come here, so we couldn’t miss such an opportunity. This is the main reason. I think he was the number one target on everyone’s scorecard, but I can’t speak for the others. When we knew he wanted to end up here, we did what we had to do. »


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