With one big-name restricted free agent inking his deal over the weekend, the attention turns to another one: Ryan Johansen of the Columbus Blue Jackets, the 22-year-old center coming off a 33-goal season.
Things were sunnier earlier this summer when Johansen stopped being all boo-boo-faced about not getting a long-term contract offer from the Jackets, having called the lack of one a “slap in the face.” His agent Kurt Overhardt met Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s request for a two-year bridge contract; and seeing as how Kekalainen had all the leverage here, it was just a matter of time.
But that doesn’t mean Johansen is ready to bend to his whim on financial terms, which is why the two sides remain significantly apart with under two months until training camp.
The two sides were believed to be at least $3 million apart per season on a two-year deal at that point, and it doesn't appear that much progress has been made. Asked this weekend if they were still far apart, one of the interested parties responded via text: "Hectares."
That’s 2.47 acres! You’d need a ride-on mower to cover the distance in their contract talks!
If Johansen signs a two- or three-year contract, he'll remain a restricted free agent when that deal expires. However, he'll have arbitration rights, which most often benefit the player (although arbitration does insure a contract getting signed, one way or the other.) Johansen will be an unrestricted free agent in four seasons, which is why the club bristled so at his request for a four-year contract.
In a different, less old-boys-network league, perhaps there would be an offer sheet placed on Johansen that would force the Blue Jackets’ hands. They’d match, of course, but it would still monkey with their well-curated salary structure a year before players like Sergei Bobrovsky and Cam Atkinson are up for new deals.
There’s no reason to believe Johansen won’t sign before camp, just like there’s no reason to suspect that an RFA trying to get as much out of a team as he can means he won’t remain with that team when his bridge contract is up. Right, Mr. Subban?