Could the next GM of the Blue Jackets really look to move Johnny Gaudreau?

With the Blue Jackets continuing to struggle through a rebuild, rumors are popping up that the incoming GM could explore a Johnny Gaudreau trade. Is that possible?

Columbus Blue Jackets v Montreal Canadiens
Columbus Blue Jackets v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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One of the more surprising free agency decisions in recent NHL history continues to make hockey people outside of Columbus scratch their heads.

People still cannot understand why the most coveted free agent in his class would choose to sign a long-term contract with the Blue Jackets.

Now, with the team stumbling through the third year of the rebuild, they think it's obvious: the Jackets need to move Johnny Gaudreau before it's too late.

The first question I have here: too late for what? Both sides knew that this team would take time to get back to contention when this contract was signed.

Gaudreau will turn 31 in August. His contract has five seasons remaining after this one, which will take him right up to his 36th birthday. While a drop-off in production is inevitable by then, I do think he still has several strong years ahead of him.

This isn't a player who takes a ton of abuse on the ice. He doesn't get hit very often. He's not a bang-and-crash type forechecker, and he doesn't lay his body on the line to block shots.

In fact, I'm not even terribly concerned about the eventual age-related speed loss. Gaudreau's game is built primarily on slowing the pace down and finding passing lanes. For these reasons, I think he'll age pretty gracefully in the NHL.

The next thing these articles keep pointing towards: he's already shown a drop in production over the last two seasons. Is he really playing up to his $9.75m AAV salary? I have some thoughts on this as well.