Because it seems, Erik Gudbranson was not the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 goal.
Tremors rippled by way of the hockey world Wednesday afternoon when phrase leaked that the Jackets had signed left winger Johnny Gaudreau, the most effective participant accessible on the free-agent market.
“Johnny Hockey,” as Gaudreau is usually recognized, is totally different than Johnny Soccer. He’s totally different in the way in which that lightning is totally different than a lightning bug. (Apologies to Mr. Twain.)
It’s not a stretch to say that the Blue Jackets have acquired the most effective left winger on the planet proper now.
Welcome, Johnny Jacket.
Johnny Gaudreau is an elite left winger on Columbus Blue Jackets roster
Gaudreau, who will flip 29 in a month and is in the height of his prime, is a measurably higher participant than Patrik Laine, 24, who’s approaching his prime.
Laine had 56 factors in 56 video games with the Jackets final season. Gaudreau had 115 factors in 82 video games with the Calgary Flames. Gaudreau had eight fewer factors than Connor McDavid. If Gaudreau merely maintains one thing near his profession tempo (1.01 factors/sport) for just a few years, he could have larger seasons than Artemi Panarin and place himself within the profession strata of, or past, that of Rick Nash.
Johnny Hockey’s superior metrics are sick.
With the potential exception of Panarin, the Blue Jackets have by no means had an elite offensive participant of this caliber. Granted, Gaudreau will not be a middle. However he’s not in contrast to Chicago’s Patrick Kane in his potential to drive the play ahead, carry the puck into the offensive zone, create house for his teammates and make performs at excessive velocity, and in site visitors.
Kent Johnson, one of many Jackets’ first-round draft picks final 12 months, is projected to have related attributes. If he’s certainly one other playmaking winger, it’ll alleviate, if not render moot, probably the most urgent want within the historical past of the franchise. And that could be a bona-fide, top-line middle, the rarest of skills.
Put it this manner: Cole Sillinger can pivot the highest line if he has the talent set of Gaudreau or Johnson on his left. No drawback. With loads of power left to kill penalties.
The Gaudreau acquisition is so huge, it’s nearly onerous to consider if you’re a Jackets fan. Your crew has been in 16 draft lotteries and by no means received the No. 1 decide. Your best excessive was a first-round playoff victory – a sweep over the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning – and it was adopted by the best exodus of expertise in franchise historical past. From verdant life to on the spot demise.
Jarmo Kekalainen went “all in” and took his shot at a deep playoff run in that spring of 2019. He burned by way of draft picks to accumulate Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel, amongst others, on the commerce deadline. The Jackets obtained to the second spherical, misplaced in six video games to the Bruins, and off went Sergei Bobrovsky, Panarin, Duchene and Dzingel into the free-agent market. Bob, Bread and Duchene had been the highest three UFAs in the marketplace that 12 months, they usually obtained paid. Some place else.
My coronary heart goes out to followers of the Calgary Flames, the crew that drafted, developed and gave a stage to Johnny Hockey. Gaudreau reportedly turned down an eight-year contract price $10.5 million a 12 months from the Flames as a result of he wished to be nearer to his household in South Jersey.
Johnny Hockey’s signing makes Columbus an NHL vacation spot
Columbus doesn’t have Calgary’s hockey historical past. However our metropolis is aware of what it’s wish to be spurned. It has been our pedigree. See: the nice exodus of 2019. See: Adam Foote, Jeff Carter, Seth Jones, Josh Anderson, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and so forth, and on. It sucks.
In different NHL cities, hockey followers are having a troublesome time processing the Gaudreau signing. He was a Flyers fan as a child, so why didn’t he wind up in Philadelphia? (Cap issues.) What occurred with the opposite locations he was stated to be concerned with – Newark, New Jersey, and Elmont, New York? What occurred to the Devils and the Islanders? (He selected in any other case.)
Right here in central Ohio, the information of Johnny Hockey’s arrival has unleashed unimaginable pleasure. It’s an completely new and totally different feeling. It’s just like the Rangers getting Panarin or the Maple Leafs getting John Tavares. Nevertheless it’s extra intense.
It makes Columbus a vacation spot moderately than a port-of-call. Lastly.
Gaudreau signed with the Jackets for seven years at $9.75 million per. He took much less cash than was reportedly supplied in Calgary, Newark and Elmont.
I’m not going to get into the relative deserves of those locations versus Columbus. I’m bored with that dialog. Those that don’t perceive Columbus can suppose no matter they like. And have a pleasant day.
Blue Jackets are nonetheless pursuing a cope with Patrik Laine
For Jackets issues, the second emotion after unbridled pleasure was abject dread: Does the Gaudreau signing, which places the Jackets about $3 million underneath the salary-cap ceiling, imply the crew isn’t going to signal Laine?
Kekalainen and crew president John Davidson are adamant that they may get a Laine deal carried out. In the event that they do, oh, my. Keep tuned.
Laine can signal his qualifying supply for $7.5 million for one 12 months and compel the Jackets to commerce him. Or, he can play one 12 months with Johnny Hockey, rack up objectives after which take the UFA route out of city.
Laine may additionally select to signal a long-term deal and be one other deadly winger on a crew that’s poised to vary its historical past. There may be expertise right here now, a lot of it younger and promising. A window of Stanley Cup rivalry will not be at hand, however it might be nigh. It’s now fathomable.
In a span of some days, striker Cucho Hernandez made his Crew debut and the Blue Jackets signed Johnny Hockey. Hernandez, who has scored three objectives in his first two video games together with his new crew, is a uncommon beast – a 23-year-old striker, coming into his prime who was signed away from an English Premier League aspect.
In relative phrases, Hernandez could also be a larger story for Main League Soccer. In absolute phrases, Gaudreau is the extra huge signing for Columbus, and I exploit the pricey phrase “huge” with calculation. In contrast to Hernandez, Gaudreau is the most effective participant at his place on the planet, in the most effective hockey league on the planet.
They now share a house, at a second in time that will probably be marked.