Blue Jackets get Johnny Gaudreau

Blue Jackets get Johnny Gaudreau

  • NHL free agency opens noon ET on Wednesday.
  • Forward Johnny Gaudreau is the top player available.
  • The free agency class is deep on forwards and thin on defense and goalies.

NHL free agency opened at noon ET on Wednesday and the biggest name’s newest team became official after 8:30 p.m. 

That’s when the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that they were landing 115-point scorer Johnny Gaudreau, even though most of the hockey world was focused on the New Jersey-New York-Philadelphia area for the South Jersey native.

Free agents Claude Giroux, Andrew Copp, Darcy Kuemper, David Perron, Jack Campbell, Ryan Strome and Andre Burakovsky found new teams while Nazem Kadri, Ondrej Palat and John Klingberg weren’t announced by early evening.

The Carolina Hurricanes made two trades and the Tampa Bay Lightning signed three key players to eight-year extensions.

USA TODAY Sports’ NHL staffers track and analyze the signings and trades that occurred during the day: 

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau had a career-best 115 points last season.

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FREE AGENCY:A look at the Top 25 players testing the market

Devils on verge of deal with Ondrej Palat

The New Jersey Devils are finalizing a five-year deal with former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat, according to multiple reports. Palat was a key piece of Tampa’s two Stanley Cup championship teams and he was tied for the team lead in goals this past playoff run with 11 in 23 games. All told, the 31-year-old winger brings 138 games of playoff experience to a Devils team that is hoping to take the next step next season.

— Jace Evans  

Ducks sign Ryan Strome

The center gets a reported $25 million over five years. The Ducks were in need of a center after the retirement of Ryan Getzlaf. Anaheim is becoming New York Rangers West after earlier signing Frank Vatrano. The Ducks have lots of young talent and these signings make them better.

Johnny Gaudreau to Blue Jackets

Johnny Gaudreau is going to Columbus. The 115-point scorer signed a seven-year, $68.25 million contract ($9.75 million AAV), the team announced Wednesday night. The Blue Jackets hadn’t been mentioned early as a possible destination, but general manager Jarmo Kekaleinen told the team’s website that Gaudreau informed him that Columbus “was one of his true primary destinations” and “serious talks” then ensued. It’s a huge coup for Columbus, which has seen free agents leave or be traded through the years. The Blue Jackets also signed rugged defenseman Erik Gudbranson (four years, $16 million) earlier in the day.

Golden Knights re-sign Reilly Smith

With Max Pacioretty traded, Vegas had the money to re-sign for Smith (three years, $15 million) and Brett Howden (one year, $1.5 million).

Hurricanes trade for Max Pacioretty

The Hurricanes acquired forward Max Pacioretty and defenseman Dylan Coghlan for future considerations. The Golden Knights made the move to clear out cap space. Pacioretty dealt with injuries last season, but he still scores at a 30-goal pace.

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci updates

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney gave an update on the status of talks with Bergeron and Krejci. “I think we’re in a really good place with Patrice,” he said. “Just the timing and working out the details of his contract and allowing him to declare he’s good to go (for another season).” Sweeney said he had numerous conversations with Krejci’s camp. The longtime Bruins No. 2 center played last season in the Czech Republic. “Going to try to continue to try to find some common ground there,” Sweeney said. “Remains positive, but I just don’t have a clear cut answer.”

Blackhawks add Max Domi, Andreas Athanasiou

Each get a one-year, $3 million contract. The Blackhawks needed players after saying goodbye to Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Kirby Dach and Dominik Kubalik. Chicago also added Colin Blackwell and Alex Stalock on inexpensive contracts. The Blackhawks could finish at the bottom of the standings this season.

Kraken sign Andre Burakovsky

He gets $27.5 million over five years. His career-best 61 points would have led the Kraken in scoring last season. Burakovsky has won two Stanley Cups and is a former teammate of Seattle goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The Kraken also signed defenseman Justin Schultz (two years, $6 million) and goaltender Martin Jones (one year, $2 million).

Red Wings sign David Perron

He gets $9.5 million over two years. Detroit has been one of the busier teams on the opening day of free agency and this shows again that they’re looking to move from rebuilding to pushing for a playoff spot. He’s a veteran who has been very productive in three stints with the Blues and will provide offense and leadership in Detroit. The Red Wings also made a splash with versatile forward Andrew Copp, plus added defensemen Ben Chiarot and Olli Maatta.  

Sharks sign Oskar Lindblom

He became a free agent when the Flyers bought out the final year of his contract. He signed for two years in San Jose. Lindblom, who came back from a rare form of bone cancer, won the Masterton Trophy for perseverance in 2021. 

Rangers sign Louis Domingue

The then-Penguins goalie entered in the middle of overtime of Game 1 of the first round, after a meal of spicy pork and broccoli, and beat the Rangers. He referenced that after signing a two-year deal with New York. 

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