The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed winger Johnny Gaudreau to a seven-year contract with an AAV of $9.75 million.
Whoa. Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Long Island were believed to be Gaudreau's preferred destinations after he informed Calgary that he would not be re-signing there. However, the Blue Jackets swooped in with an offer that Gaudreau simply couldn't refuse (although if was truly about the money, he could have stayed in Calgary… or signed in New Jersey). So the Blue Jackets had some sort of X factor that appealed to Gaudreau. If Columbus is a surprise because it is not believed to be "home" for Gaudreau, it is much closer to Gaudreau's offseason home in New Jersey than Calgary is.
Okay, enough of the geography lesson. This signing instantly improves the Blue Jackets while giving the long-suffering franchise credibility in a tight Metropolitan Division. One player that jumps to mind as an instant upgrade is Patrik Laine. Although Laine did not lead the Jackets in goals or points last season due to injury, he was the only player on the team to score at a point-per-game pace. With a playmaker like Johnny Hockey, Laine might be in line for the second 40-goal season of his career. This offer also gives Laine a reason to stay if he is considering leaving Columbus. (Note: Laine is an RFA who recently received a qualifying offer.)
There are a number of options that could center that Gaudreau/Laine line. Boone Jenner, Jack Roslovic, or Cole Sillinger are all possibilities. Fantasy players will need to check Frozen Tools for the latest line combinations, as that player could be in line for a major boost in value. The 29-year-old Jenner was Laine's most frequent center in 2021-22 and also received the most power-play time of the three, so he may be the short-term winner here. Medium term, it could be the 25-year-old Roslovic. Long term, the 19-year-old Sillinger.
As for Gaudreau himself, he thrived on what was the league's