NHL: Johnny’s A Blue Jacket

NHL

As NHL Free Agency opens up the first significant domino to fall in terms of movement is Johnny Gaudreau. With players like him and Kadri on the market, there’s enormous potential for a team looking to move up the ladder to get a valuable piece to their squad.

The franchise to snatch Johnny Hockey away from the Flames is the Columbus Blue Jackets. A team without a definitive season of postseason success in its franchise history (unless you want to count that first-round sweep of Tampa). Columbus now gets one of the most electric players in all of hockey on their roster. Gaudreau is an offensive force who creates opportunities for himself and everyone else around him, giving a huge boost to anybody playing with him.

Can the signing of Johnny Gaudreau jumpstart a return to the postseason for Blue Jackets? Can it bring them deeper into the postseason than they ever have before?

Haves and Have-Nots

There is a very clear cut-off between playoff and non-playoff teams in the NHL right now. The Blue Jackets are for sure one of those have-nots, finishing at 81 points at the end of the 2021-22 regular season. The division they play in also doesn’t help, a competitive Atlantic saw a team like the Islanders, who were back-to-back league semi-finalists, miss the playoffs entirely.

It’s certainly hard to just automatically pencil this team into the playoffs, the Metro is very difficult to break through. Columbus has to add more pieces, top-flight pieces if they want a playoff roster on paper. But they do have a solid core already that Gaudreau can elevate instantly.

Columbus certainly wasn’t a slouch as they were competitive at the very least during the season. They won 37 games and picked up 7 points in OT losses to their 38 regulation defeats. The best Blue Jackets were definitely among the likes of Bjorkstrand, Laine, Werenski, and more. While Gaudreau probably won’t reach the career-high marks he hit this past year, he can still definitely be over a point per game.

Gelling With New Teammates

If the Blue Jackets can get Laine back next year, I send my condolences to any other Metro division goalie next season. I can picture the passes from Gaudreau to Patrik Laine for a one-timer on the man advantage, gives me shivers just thinking about it. Laine would be the player that this signing most benefits right away. Laine is a restricted free agent, so they still have to officially bring him back, but I don’t think a pitch to him will be too difficult to make.

With Johnny Gaudreau signing to Columbus it’s a huge day for the Blue Jackets. It makes them a destination for potential free agents to pair with one of the biggest names in hockey. Gaudreau turned down a lucrative offer from Calgary to play in Columbus. There has to be another fish for Columbus to catch here, but this is the biggest splash they could have made. A top point producer in his prime to a team that has more problems keeping stars than signing them.

The Blue Jackets upstaged the favorites of the Devils, Islanders, and Flyers to pick up one of the biggest prizes in any NHL free agency class. They probably are not done yet, but for now, they collect a piece that elevates everyone around them, watch out for the Cannons this year.

 


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