Johnny Gaudreau made the easy real estate choice when he moved to Columbus, buying the house of the player his signing pushed out.
During the Blue Jackets’ first media availability of the season, president of hockey operations John Davidson revealed the big-time free agent acquisition purchased former Columbus forward Oliver Bjorkstrand’s house from him. In some sort of weird twist of fate, it was Gaudreau’s acquisition and his seven-year, $68.25-million contract that led to Bjorkstrand’s trade to the Seattle Kraken due to cap constraints.
Bjorkstrand, who was on his honeymoon when he found out about his trade to Seattle, said he was surprised by the move, but he should have seen the writing on the wall.
“After the signing of Gaudreau, I could see that if they signed [Patrik Laine]I figured somebody had to go,” he told The Columbus Dispatch after the trade. “I knew it was a possibility. … I guess I didn’t look closely enough (at) the situation of (rookies) coming up and future signings and so on, and where they’re at (with the salary cap), so I wouldn’t say I expected that phone call. It was a little bit of a shocker getting that call.”
At least he doesn’t have to worry about selling his house while preparing for his first season in Seattle. Silver linings.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen defended the move by saying the team did not expect to be able to sign Gaudreau, but they had to take the opportunity to get one of the most skilled wingers in the game. And of course, with the hard head being what it is, it forced his hand into a move that he found difficult.
“Definitely mixed emotions,” Kekalainen said. “Probably the hardest decision I ever had to make as GM of the Blue Jackets is to trade Oliver Bjorkstrand away. I think very highly of him, not just as a hockey player but as a person.”
Only time will tell if the sacrifice was the correct decision. Bjorkstrand, who had spent his entire career with the Blue Jackets, led the team with 28 goals last season and ranked second in scoring, while also being responsible in all three zones.
But on the other hand, Gaudreau scored 40 goals and 115 points for the Flames in 2021-22 and was the most sought after player this summer after finishing fourth in Hart Trophy voting. Just a little upgrade, to say the least.
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