Lou Lamoriello couldn’t find a way — or the cap space — to get Johnny Gaudreau to the New York Islanders last week at the start of free agency.
Or to even make an offer for the playmaker, according to some reports.
Well, Isles fans can now officially eliminate any semblance of a consolation despite the fact that their team was reportedly in the running for the star left-winger. They weren’t Gaudreau’s second option, or even on the map as he was weighing his future options.
On the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, the 29-year-old admitted that he was on the verge of signing with the New Jersey Devils before the Columbus Blue Jackets swooped in at the last minute with a seven-year, $68.25 million deal that was accepted within an hour of its proposal.
“I was pretty much — I think I was trying to get a deal done with the Devils,” Gaudreau said. “I hadn’t heard from Columbus. Then all of a sudden they called at 4 [p.m.].
“I told my agent ‘I want to go here.’ Just try to get this done. This is the spot I want to be here. He got it done in an hour and the next thing I knew, I was signing with Columbus.”
Gaudreau is coming off a career year with the Calgary Flames, recording 40 goals and 75 assists (115 points), to earn the big deal from the Blue Jackets in free agency.
For the Islanders, it prolongs their search for an elite, goal-scoring first-line winger to pair with Mathew Barzal — though Lamoriello appears to not be showing much haste in addressing the roster.
New York is the only team in the NHL that has not made (or announced) a free-agency signing since the window opened on July 13.