Johnny Gaudreau cashed in on a career season by signing a US$68.25 million, seven-year contract with Columbus in the Blue Jackets’ bid to return to prominence after losing their core of stars — including Artemi Panarin — in free agency two years ago.
Gaudreau’s decision to sign with Columbus came a day after turning down what an eight-year deal to re-sign with Calgary, where he spent his first nine NHL seasons. The Blue Jackets also signed defenceman Erik Gudbranson to a four-year, US$16 million contract.
“Johnny Gaudreau is a superstar in the National Hockey League, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome him,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said.
“He is an elite player with great character that makes the players around him better.”
The 28-year-old who played at Boston College finished tied for second in the NHL with a career-best 115 points and 40 goals last season. And so much for the speculation of Gaudreau, who is from New Jersey, heading to a team much closer to home such as the Devils, Philadelphia Flyers or New York Islanders.
Gaudreau’s signing highlighted a busy day in which Claude Giroux looked ahead to a homecoming in Ottawa, the Washington Capitals landed Stanley Cup-winning goalie Darcy Kuemper and the New York Rangers spent big on centre Vincent Trocheck.