COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a four-year, $16 million contract during the NHL’s free agency window Wednesday.

Columbus is the eighth NHL team of Gudbranson’s career, with is most recent stint coming in Calgary last season where he played 78 games contributing a career high in goals (6) and assists (11).

Gudbranson, 30, has registered 27 goals and 67 assists for 94 points with 708 career penalty minutes, 1,475 hits and 767 blocked shots in 641 career NHL regular season games over 11 seasons with the Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames.

“Adding experience, size and toughness to our blueline was a priority for us this summer and Erik Gudbranson fits that bill perfectly,” said Kekalainen. “He also has tremendous character and will be a great addition to our leadership group.  We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Erik, his wife, Sarah, and son, Bennett, to the Blue Jackets family.”

The 6-5, 222-pound right-handed shot defenseman set career highs in goals, assists, points, blocked shots, games played and plus/minus rating in 2021-22 as he notched 6-11-17 with 68 penalty minutes, 145 hits, 92 blocked shots and a +15 plus/minus rating, while logging 18:08 TOI in 78 games with the Flames.  He helped Calgary capture the Pacific Division title last season.

Originally selected by Florida in the first round, third overall, at the 2010 NHL Draft, Gudbranson spent his first five NHL seasons with the Panthers from 2011-2016, including 2013-14 when he collected 3-6-9 and a career-high 114 penalty minutes in 65 outings and a career high 212 hits in 76 contests with Florida in 2014-15.  He then played two seasons with the Canucks before splitting the 2018-19 season between Vancouver and Pittsburgh, the 2019-20 campaign between Pittsburgh and Anaheim and the 2020-21 campaign between Ottawa and Nashville.

The Ottawa, Ontario native has represented Team Canada at several international tournaments, including the 2014 IIHF World Championships and 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships (silver medal).  He played three seasons with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League from 2008-11, registering 17-62-79 and 242 penalty minutes in 148 contests.