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Blue Jackets Sign Top NHL Free-agent, "Johnny Hockey"

Florida Panthers right wing Claude Giroux controls the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Sunday, April 17, 2022, in Detroit. Giroux has signed a $19.5 million, three-year contract with the Ottawa Senators, according to a person with knowledge of the move. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday, July 13, 2022, because the deal had not been announced.(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
Florida Panthers right wing Claude Giroux controls the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Sunday, April 17, 2022, in Detroit. Giroux has signed a $19.5 million, three-year contract with the Ottawa Senators, according to a person with knowledge of the move. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday, July 13, 2022, because the deal had not been announced.(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
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(AP) -- A hectic start to the NHL’s free-agency period Wednesday closed with the Columbus Blue Jackets landing the highest-profile player: "Johnny Hockey.”

Johnny Gaudreau cashed in on a career season by signing a $68.25 million, seven-year contract with Columbus in the Blue Jackets’ bid to return to prominence after losing their core of stars — including Artemi Panarin — in free agency two years ago.