Wednesday, August 10, 2022

NHL free agency: Johnny Gaudreau signs seven-year, $68.25 million deal with Blue Jackets

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The NHL’s top free agent has made his decision. Star winger Johnny Gaudreau has signed a seven-year, $68.25 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team announced Wednesday

The deal’s average annual value is $9.75 million.

Gaudreau had spent the first nine seasons of his NHL career with the Calgary Flames. During that time, the New Jersey native tallied 210 goals and 399 assists in 602 career games. Gaudreau also finished fourth in the Hart Trophy voting in two of the past four seasons, which is awarded to the league MVP.

“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,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “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.”

The Flames made several attempts to get a deal done with Gaudreau to keep him with the franchise by offering multiple eight-year contracts, according to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski. However, Gaudreau ultimately decided that it was best for his family to enter free agency and find a new home.

“It’s a disappointing day to say the very least,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving said after learning that Gaudreau would enter free agency. “I can assure our fans that we have done everything possible to keep John in Calgary. I want to wish him and his family the very, very best. He gave us 8 great years here.”

The five-time All-Star is coming off the best season of his career with 115 points (40 goals and 75 assists). Gaudreau helped lead the Flames to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs before falling at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.

Gaudreau leaves the Flames as one of the team’s greatest players as he currently has the fifth-most points (609), fifth-most assists (399), and fifth-most game-winning goals (41). He was originally selected by Calgary in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Draft.

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