Gaudreau to Columbus tops busy summer of NHL player movement

Oct 3, 2022, 2:59 AM | Updated: 3:05 am
Columbus Blue Jackets' Johnny Gaudreau, right, looks for an open pass against the Pittsburgh Pengui...

Columbus Blue Jackets' Johnny Gaudreau, right, looks for an open pass against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Johnny Hockey moved East, though not as far as everyone thought. The champs out West couldn’t keep the entire band together. And two teams with lengthy playoff droughts made some moves hoping to change that.

Johnny Gaudreau joining Columbus headlined a busy offseason of player movement around the NHL. Darcy Kuemper left Colorado for Washington after backstopping the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup, and former teammate Nazem Kadri signed with Calgary, Gaudreau’s former team.

Toronto is often called the center of the hockey universe, but this past summer it was Calgary being part of the biggest blockbuster trade: Matthew Tkachuk to Florida for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar. Panthers division rivals Ottawa and Detroit also made substantial moves to take another step toward contending.

Despite the salary cap only going up $1 million, plenty of players changed places since the Avalanche dethroned Tampa Bay to win it all.

JOHNNY’S DECISION

Gaudreau was the best free agent available, and signs pointed toward a return home to Philadelphia. But the Flyers couldn’t clear cap space to sign the South Jersey native, who chose to sign a $68.25 million, seven-year contract with the Blue Jackets.

“I thought it was a good spot for me, personally,” Gaudreau said. “I think we can have a lot of success here. It’s somewhere that I had circled on my list for a while now. It’s not only from what I’ve heard about the city and where you live, but they’ve got good players on this team, too, and I’m really looking forward to jumping in with this group.”

The Blue Jackets are still not favored to make the playoffs, but they’re closer than before with Gaudreau.

BIG MOVERS

After the top eight and bottom eight in the Eastern Conference last season were separated by 16 points — the largest margin since the current format was introduced in 1993-94 — two teams on the outside of the playoff picture took major steps to try to change that.

The Red Wings, who have not made the playoffs the past six seasons, spent $61.5 million in free agency to add center Andrew Copp, wingers David Perron and Dominik Kubalik, and defenseman Ben Chiarot. They also acquired goaltender Ville Husso from St. Louis.

Ottawa, which has missed the playoffs seven of the past nine years, did not wait until free agency to add important pieces. The Senators acquired high-scoring winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and goalie Cam Talbot from Minnesota before signing longtime Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux.

After years of patience, excitement is building in Canada’s captial.

“We wanted to do it the right way,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said. “We didn’t want to put Band-Aid solutions when we did this: try to sign free agents, make one trade and then one year you’re in, the other year you’re out. Doing it this way, we just feel like more for long-term success.”

CHAMP’S CHANGES

Colorado’s biggest shakeup after winning the Cup was in net, acquiring Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers and paving the way for Kuemper to depart in free agency. The Avalanche signed Georgiev to a three-year contract and will pair him with Czech veteran Pavel Francouz.

“When he was a starter, he played really well, and he wanted a bigger opportunity and he’s got that opportunity,” president of hockey operations Joe Sakic said of Georgiev. “Frankie, he’s a great backup goaltender who can come in and play 30, 40 games. I think they’re going to be a great duo.”

The Avalanche kept much of their core together and also made a potentially valuable depth free agent signing by getting forward Evan Rodrigues for $2 million.

“I love the Rodrigues signing,” top forward Nathan MacKinnon said. “We get a 45-point guy for $2 million, it’s crazy: 19 goals. I saw he shot like 7% last year and scored 19, so I think it’s hot. Who knows how many goals he’ll score?”

PANTHERS NOT STAALING

In addition to trading for Tkachuk, who adds some size and sandpaper, the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winning-Panthers signed defenseman Marc Staal and brought brother Eric to training camp for a tryout. The brothers were on vacation together, with the deals coming together on the back nine at Pebble Beach.

“It was crazy,” said brother Jordal Staal, who’s captain of the Carolina Hurricanes. “They’re both just super pumped. … Really cool thing.”

LIGHTNING OFFSEASON

While much of the core that won the Cup twice with Tampa Bay remains, the salary cap crunch forced some departures. Dependable defenseman Ryan McDonagh got traded to the Nashville Predators, and standout playoff scorer Ondrej Palat signed with the New Jersey Devils.

GM Julien BriseBois did some bargain shopping to sign winger Vladislav Namestnikov and veteran defenseman Ian Cole. He also thinks defenseman Philippe Myers — the return for McDonagh — has the chance to exceed expectations after a rough couple of seasons.

“We saw a lot of potential in him not that long ago,” BriseBois said. “He’s got a really good toolbox. Hopefully in a new environment we’re able to get the most out of him, and if we can do that we’re going to have a really good defenseman on our hands who’s only 25 years old.”

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Florida Panthers' Matthew Tkachuk smiles during the NHL hockey team's media day, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Coral Springs, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
            
              Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev stops the puck during the second period of the team's NHL preseason hockey game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
            
              Calgary Flames center Nazem Kadri skates against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period of an NHL hockey preseason game Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Calgary, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)
            
              Columbus Blue Jackets' Johnny Gaudreau, right, looks for an open pass against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

AP

Associated Press

HarperCollins to cut North American workforce by 5%

NEW YORK (AP) — HarperCollins Publishers plans to cut its workforce by 5% in the U.S. and Canada by the end of June, citing increased costs and lower sales in a statement released Tuesday. The announcement comes the day before HarperCollins and the union representing some 250 striking employees are to meet with a federal […]
11 hours ago
Slovak President Zuzana Caputova speaks during a press conference with her Austrian counterpart Ale...
Associated Press

Slovakia’s parliament sets early election for Sept 30

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovakia’s parliament on Tuesday approved Sept. 30 as the date for an early election in the country. Ninety-two lawmakers in the 150-seat National Council — two more than needed — voted in favor of the move that came a week after lawmakers amended the country’s constitution to make it possible to […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Anti-coup protesters gesture during a march in Yangon, Myanmar, Friday, March 26, 2021. As F...
Associated Press

US sanctions Myanmar groups ahead of coup anniversary

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. said Tuesday it was imposing sanctions on a group of people and organizations connected to Myanmar’s military regime as the two-year anniversary nears for the coup that removed the country’s civilian government. Six people and three organizations were designed for sanctions, including the country’s elections commission, several mining firms and […]
11 hours ago
Florida center Jason Jitoboh (33) runs up court after making a shot against Alabama during the firs...
Associated Press

Jitoboh’s recovery coming into focus year after eye injury

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jason Jitoboh won’t step foot onto a basketball court without his glasses. And he doesn’t even need them to see. The darkened lenses merely provide extra protection for what eyesight Jitoboh has remaining. Florida’s 6-foot-11 center took a finger to his left eye at Tennessee last January and spent the better […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

US reassures Kosovo it won’t support Serb-majority ministate

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The United States on Tuesday reassured Kosovars that it wouldn’t support the creation of a Serb-majority ministate in Kosovo — like one in Bosnia — as Washington attempts to convince the country to accept a controversial association. The U.S. Embassy in Pristina met with a group of civil society leaders, government […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press Cleveland reporter Mark Gillispie takes a selfie with his AP colleagues videojourn...
Associated Press

Veteran AP, Plain Dealer reporter Mark Gillispie dies at 63

Mark Gillispie, a veteran journalist who wrote about many of Ohio’s biggest stories and characters during a four-decade career primarily with The Associated Press and The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, has died. He was 63. Gillispie, who was diagnosed with cancer last fall, died Sunday while in hospice care, his children, Sam Gillispie and Martha […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Gaudreau to Columbus tops busy summer of NHL player movement