Johnny Gaudreau was coming off a 115 point season with the Flames before signing as a free agent with the Blue Jackets. Most expected those numbers to drop because the Flames were a playoff team and Gaudreau was playing next to Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm. What some didn’t expect was Columbus to experience a ridiculous number of injuries and end up as the second to worst team in the league.
Most of Johnny’s season was spent attached to the hip of Boone Jenner. The captain performed admirably in the role he was asked to fill, but he’s no Lindholm or Tkachuk. At 5v5, the team as a whole struggled and Johnny was a victim of the bad play. In 2021-22, Gaudreau scored 72 5v5 points. In 2022-23, that number dropped to 39. That’s still a good number (53rd in the league among forwards), but way off of the pace of the prior year.
There’s no question the Jackets would have finished last in the league if not for Gaudreau. Although Laine finished higher in points per game, there’s no question that Johnny was the best player on most nights. Going forward, the coaching staff and front office have to be able to maximize Gaudreau’s presence by building around him if they want to seriously compete for a Cup. The clock is ticking.
5v5 Corsi%: 47.25
5v5 Fenwick%: 46.86
Off Zone Start %: 54.17
Johnny Hockey is signed for 6 more seasons with an AAV of $9.75m. He currently has a full no-move clause which converts to a 10 team trade list on July 1, 2026.
On March 14th in San Jose, Gaudreau scored two goals, including the overtime winner, and added three assists. He played over 20 minutes and was +3.
Gaudreau had played 349 straight games before missing two games in February. It was how the season went for the club as a whole, but it was unfortunate that Johnny was taken out of the iron man running across the league – he was third before the injury.
I’m not going to take away from Gaudreau just because the coaching was bad and the team was terrible. He still managed to put up the fifth best season in Blue Jackets’ history while spending most of the season on a line with second and third liners. Johnny Hockey is the real deal. Don’t be surprised if he eventually breaks the franchise record for both points (87) and assists (59) in a single season.