NHL free agency live tracker: Johnny Gaudreau at Blue Jackets, news, signings and trades

Just a fascinating and unpredictable first day of free agency in the NHL, so let’s do a quick recap.

The biggest deal: The Columbus Blue Jackets unexpectedly snag the No. 1 player on everyone’s trade board, Johnny Gaudreau, with a seven-year contract offer worth $9.75 million per season. Gaudreau left over $10 million on the table after turning down the Flames’ final offer and opting to go to a team that wasn’t exactly in his own backyard.

His main reason for leaving Calgary was to be closer to his family. Looks like Gaudreau wanted to be closer to home, but not exactly above them either.

The most impactful: A brilliant day for the Carolina Hurricanes, who essentially got Max Pacioretty for free in a salary dump from the Vegas Golden Knights; and added a former Norris Trophy winner in Brent Burns to bolster their blue line and power play, replacing (and improving) Tony DeAngelo.

Under the Radar Winner (Also Most Active): The Detroit Red Wings were serious free agents, adding David Perron, Andrew Copp, Dominik Kubalik, Ben Chiarot and Olli Maatta – three forwards who will play in their top nine, one top-four defenseman and one top-six.

After trading and signing Ville Husso, the Red Wings have improved in earnest from the struggling club that finished last season badly beaten as well.

O Canada! : The Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers have been doing great business in recent days. Ottawa improved their goalie by moving Matt Murray’s contract to Toronto, while adding Cam Talbot, and also signing unrestricted agent Claude Giroux to join Alex DeBrincat and the rest of that young core up front.

In Edmonton, the Oilers solidified their goalie by securing Jack Campbell to a five-year term, as well as re-signing Evander Kane to a moderate contract.

Sneaky, under the radar good: Pittsburgh managed to sign Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to extensions, with both players taking pay cuts to stay and play with Sidney Crosby.

They also secured the acquisition of trade deadline Rickard Rakell to agree to an extension, then landed useful steady defender Jan Ruutta from Tampa Bay as a free agent to deepen an already deep blue line – which opens up the ability to trade a Marcus Pettersson or John Marino down the road, for assets and salary cap space.

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