The contract signed by Johnny Gaudreau with the Columbus Blue Jackets was the big surprise of the opening of the free agent market in the NHL.
The little forward refused more money from the Calgary Flames, a team with which he had just enjoyed a 115-point season, to join a team in full reconstruction.
Upon learning that “Johnny Hockey” would not return with the club that drafted him, we all imagined that he would opt for the Devils or the Islanders, he who was born in New Jersey. But no, he chose Columbus.
I don't understand Gaudreau's decision. He just had the season of his life with the Flames. He formed a beautiful duo with Matthew Tkachuk. Calgary offered him an eight-year pact, during which he would earn an average of $10 million per season.
With the Blue Jackets, he will earn an average of $9.75 million per campaign, for seven seasons. I can't wait to see what's next.
Not good for the Canadiens
Meanwhile, the two teams that have improved the most, the Ottawa Senators and the Detroit Red Wings are in the same section as the Canadiens. This does not bode well for Montreal…
Ottawa's general manager, Pierre Dorion, is on a mission. He wants his team to get to the playoffs as soon as possible. Senators fans have been waiting for a while.
The Senators drafted well. Now, with the arrival of Claude Giroux, they have an experienced leader to mentor their young players.
Defenders and leaders
We will have to place Ottawa in the playoffs next season. Dorion also improved his club by bringing in goalkeeper Cam Talbot.
And every team that aspires to win the Stanley Cup relies on a dominant defenseman. This year, we saw the Avalanche with Cale Makar. The older ones will remember the “big three ” in Montreal, Denis Potvin with the Islanders, Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey… the big teams have all had a defender who ended up in the Hall of Fame after his career.
In Ottawa, they have this defender: it's Thomas Chabot. I'm not saying the Senators can win the cup this season, but they're on the right track. They named Brady Tkachuk captain. Their youth is talented.
The Red Wings are also banking on a very good fullback in Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider. They went for veterans who have already won, like David Perron.
Their general manager, Steve Yzerman, knows how to win. He did it in that same position with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He also did it during his playing career in Detroit.
The Canadiens didn't make a splash on Wednesday, but I'm sure we can expect Kent Hughes to be working hard between now and the start of training camp.
Already, we know that he is actively seeking to exchange Jeff Petry. He's still stuck with Carey Price, since the rest of his career remains a mystery.
That must be embarrassing. Hughes and Jeff Gorton must reconcile with contracts cast in stone, offered by the former administration. They are unable to trade these pacts, as they are too expensive.
Brendan Gallagher's contract is terrible. So is Petry's case. We no longer want him in Montreal and he no longer wants to play in Montreal. He no longer has a place with the Canadiens since that famous game where he refused to come to the defense of his goalkeeper Samuel Montembeault.
The only way to resolve this situation is through a transaction. But as the other teams are well aware of his case, it will probably be necessary to reduce his value.
My vacation starts today and my column will be back this fall. I take this opportunity to wish you all, dear readers, happy holidays as well. And above all, be careful!
— Interview by Jessica Lapinski
Echoes of Bergie
Chicago in mode demolition
I don't understand what's going on in Chicago at all. They are destroying the team. We saw it on draft day, when they sent Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa. Patrick Kane now wants to be traded. It will be more difficult for Jonathan Toews. His illness slowed him down last year. I want to believe that we want to start afresh. But before Kane and Toews arrived, they had horrible seasons in which they struggled to attract hockey fans. It seems to want to start again.
Bergeron should come back
We spoke with Patrice Bergeron on Wednesday, on TVA Sports. I have a feeling the Quebec forward will be back with the Bruins. The reason he will come back is because Boston always finds a way to put together a competitive team. It is a well-structured course. Despite the change of coach, I have the impression that we will continue in the same line. There will be quite a struggle to get to the playoffs.
Good luck to Simon Gagné!
Simon Gagné will be coaching assistant at the Remparts and he will also advise Patrick Roy in his duties as general manager. With all his experience, it's a great acquisition. It will bring a positive aspect. I think this is Roy's last year behind the bench, so his arrival prepares the next generation.