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Columbus Blue Jackets sign top free agent Johnny Gaudreau

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) in the second period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Dallas Stars, Monday, May 9, 2022, in Dallas. Gaudreau signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, July 13.
Tony Gutierrez

The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed the NHL's top free agent Johnny Gaudreau. The signing sent shockwaves through the NHL.

Gaudreau, who turns 29 this summer, became a six-time all-star while playing for the Calgary Flames. He signed a seven-year contract worth $68.25 million or $9.75 million per year on Wednesday to play for Columbus.

Last season, Gaudreau, a winger, scored 40 goals and 75 assists in 82 games.

"Johnny Gaudreau is a superstar in the National Hockey League, and we couldn't be happier to welcome him to the Columbus Blue Jackets family," said Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen. "He is an elite player with great character that makes the players around him better. We are thrilled to add a player of his caliber to our group. This is an exciting day for our franchise, our fans and the city of Columbus."

The signing came a day after Johnny “Hockey” rejected an eight-year contract to stay in Calgary.

The New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils were seen as likely destinations for Gaudreau. However, Aaron Portzline, who covers the Blue Jackets for The Athletic, reported Columbus made a major push on Wednesday to sign him.

Wednesday was the first day of the NHL's free agency signing period.

Earlier in the day, Columbus signed one of Gaudreau's Calgary teammates defenseman Erik Gudbranson.

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