The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed free agent left winger Johnny Gaudreau to a seven-year contract worth $68.25 million, or $9.75 million average per season. This contract carries him through the 2028-29 season.
Johnny Gaudreau's seven-year deal with #CBJ comes in at $9.75M AAV.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 13, 2022
Johnny Gaudreau Signed Contract, Leaves Calgary
Over his nine-year NHL career, Gaudreau only played for the Calgary Flames. The team drafted him back in 2011 with their fourth round, 104th overall selection. In the years since he amassed 210 goals and 399 assists for 609 career points in 602 career games.
Last season Gaudreau posted career highs in all scoring categories, with 40 goals and 75 assists for 115 points. This pushed him past the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career, as well as his first time in the 40-goal club. The 2016-17 Lady Byng winner also matched a career-high with 26 minutes in penalties. His possession numbers ranked at 63.0 percent Corsi and a relative Corsi of 11.4.
What This Means for the Future
For Gaudreau, 2021-22 represented the last year on his six-season contract worth $6.75 million annually. Only Matthew Tkachuk ($7 million) carried a higher cap hit for the Flames. Obviously, obliterating career highs in all major categories in a contract year like Gaudreau did is a best-case scenario for players. Alternatively, front offices see it as bittersweet; yes, it makes the player all the more valuable, but that also means more opposing franchises feel the same way. The bidding war was on, and Gaudreau made his decision.
Free agency gives players like Gaudreau all the bargaining power, albeit less than usual given the cap environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic. That being said, everyone knew Gaudreau had money coming his way, and this new deal cements that. Calgary knew they would struggle to retain all their pieces, especially with Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane waiting for new contracts as RFA’s. They technically had the cap space to retain “Johnny Hockey”, but perhaps the core of this team needs a slight altering. After all, they’ve been together for over half a decade without ever getting to the Conference Finals. They missed playoffs half the time, too.
In summary, Calgary will undoubtedly notice Gaudreau’s departure. And his new team will surely thank them for letting him walk.