The New York Islanders’ long wait for an elite goal scorer will be extended a little longer.
Per multiple reports on Wednesday afternoon, superstar left-winger Johnny Gaudreau has agreed to a seven-year, $9.8 million AAV deal to join the Columbus Blue Jackets after the Islanders were heavily linked to the star winger.
The 28-year-old is coming off a career season with the Calgary Flames, scoring 40 goals with 75 assists for 115 points — a type of talent that would have immediately slotted in on the Islanders’ first line alongside playmaking center Mathew Barzal.
The Islanders have not had a 100-point player since Pierre Turgeon since 1992-93 while seeing just four different players eclipse the 40-goal mark in a single season over the last 30 years.
For team president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, it continues the trend of losing out on top free agents who have long seemed tentative to join the Islanders. Former captain John Tavares walked in free agency four years ago before Artemi Panarin took less money to join the Rangers.
They had reportedly been finalists with a trio of Metropolitan Division rivals to get the New Jersey native’s signature as the Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, and Blue Jackets were also heavily linked to the All-Star.
While the Devils were deemed the front-runners followed closely by the Islanders, the Flyers bowed out as they were unable to clear the necessary cap space to put in a big-time offer — though general manager Chuck Fletcher admitted on Wednesday evening that his team wasn’t in the sweepstakes for Gaudreau.
Columbus came out of nowhere to reportedly offer a monster deal of seven years at $84 million, per Frank Seravalli of the Daily Faceoff. It was the same amount as the Flames offered Gaudreau, though the winger was reportedly looking for a team closer to home. The problem was that Columbus is roughly eight hours away from New Jersey.