Three Questions Ahead of the 2023-24 Season: Johnny Gaudreau

By Coby Maeir on July 11, 2023 at 10:15 am
Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) scores a goal against Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry (35) during overtime at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

It's been 363 days since Johnny Gaudreau signed a seven-year, $9.75M cap hit deal with the Blue Jackets, shocking the hockey world. It's safe to say that his first season in Columbus, both from an individual and team standpoint, fell short of expectations. After a 115-point season in 2021-22, Gaudreau scored 21-53--74 in 80 games, missing action for the first time since the 2017-18 season. The Blue Jackets entered the season with expectations to compete for a playoff spot, but after several injuries and poor play, finished with 59 points, the second-worst season in franchise history. 

Heading into his second season with the Jackets, here are three important questions to ask about Gaudreau:

Can Gaudreau finally click with Patrik Laine?

Heading into the 2022-23 season, there was a substantial amount of hype, and rightfully so, about the damage that the duo of Gaudreau and Laine could do. However, like nearly everything about the 2022-23 Blue Jackets, they did not meet expectations. According to, Gaudreau and Laine shared the ice for 430:58 at five-on-five, and during that time, the Jackets scored 3.06 goals/60 minutes. That's not bad in theory, but when you prorate it over the season, it amounts to just 22 goals. Now, a lot of that had to do with Laine's absence from the lineup, so maybe if they both play the majority of the games next season, that number will jump. 

What's a realistic offensive output for Gaudreau in 2023-24?

For his career, Gaudreau is a point-per-game player with 683 points in 682 games. Maybe his 74-point performance last season was a major disappointment to some but the fact is that 115 points is a ridiculously high number that should be expected of one player in the league, Connor McDavid. Gaudreau has three seasons with 80+ points, and it's reasonable to expect he'll pick up his fourth in 2023-24, assuming he's able to build chemistry with his linemates. Is he a 100-point player? Probably not. Is he a 75-point player? Probably not. The answer likely lies somewhere in between the two numbers at around 85-to-90 points. 

How might Gaudreau be deployed under Mike Babcock?

Babcock and Darryl Sutter, Gaudreau's coach in 2021-22 in Calgary, are both regarded as tough and demanding coaches. Well, under Sutter, Gaudreau had his best season, scoring 115 points. Yes, he played on a great line centered by Elias Lindholm with Matthew Tkachuk on the other wing, but the idea that Gaudreau won't succeed under a coach like Babcock is asinine. Babcock values puck possession, and few players in the league are better with the puck on their stick than Gaudreau, so this should be a huge plus for his game entering the season. The expectation should be for Gaudreau to be the team leader in ice time among forwards throughout the season and for him to play at an elite level.

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