‘Are we in a simulation?’: Gaudreau’s Columbus decision stuns hockey world

Frank Seravalli joins Ken Reid to break down Johnny Gaudreau's surprise signing with the Blue Jackets, why other teams failed to acquire him, and where this loss leaves the Flames moving forward.

The Johnny Gaudreau sweepstakes are over, and he’s landing somewhere few could have expected: Columbus.

When Gaudreau informed the Calgary Flames he was testing free agency, citing family reasons over money, people’s minds instantly assumed Gaudreau would choose a team adjacent to the Jersey shores he grew up on, such as the Philadelphia Flyers or New Jersey Devils.

Not quite, Johnny Hockey is taking his talents to central Ohio to play for the Blue Jackets. Roughly an eight-hour drive from Gaudreau’s hometown of Salem County, New Jersey.

The Athletic‘s Aaron Portzline started the Blue Jackets rumblings, reporting general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was making a serious push to sign him. The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli then followed that up saying the rumoured offer was a whopping $12 million per season over seven years.

But no, Gaudreau is signing a seven-year deal at around $9.8 million a season. Meaning he left over $15 million on the table as the Flames had reportedly offered $10.5 million for eight years.

To summarize, Gaudreau took a pay cut to play for the Blue Jackets, a non-playoff team that historically has trouble keeping free agents (think Rick Nash, Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovski), in Columbus — which isn’t exactly close to home.

Naturally, people on social media had priceless reactions to the decision. Here are some of the best:

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