In a previous article, I outline the acrimonious contract strife that existed between the Columbus Blue Jackets and their young center, Ryan Johansen. Well, the Blue Jackets and Central Ohio’s ‘Doomsday Scenario’ has finally come to an end.
After a lengthy – 3½ month, acrimonious – contact negotiation period, the Columbus Blue Jackets and center Ryan Johansen have agreed to a 3-year contract for $12 million, total. The contract will pay Johansen $3 million for the first two years of the deal and $6 million for the third year of the contract.
This stalemate caused great consternation for both the Blue Jackets organization and its fans who were anticipating an agreement, months earlier and for Johansen and the Blue Jackets to fully participate in training camp, together and begin to make their ascent towards the top of the Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division standings.
However, Johansen’s holdout and the rash of injuries that have ravaged the Blue Jackets – Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery, out six weeks); Ryan Murray (knee injury, has recently skated with the team but his status is uncertain); Boone Jenner (broken hand, out five weeks) and Nathan Horton (degenerative back issues) – have cast a pall over the prior euphoria that resonated throughout Central Ohio.
The deal that Johansen agreed to carries an annual salary cap hit of $4 million; however, it’s Johansen’s $6 million salary for the 2016-17 season that was vital to him and his agent, Kurt Overhardt. Johansen will remain a restricted free agent (RFA) when the contract expires, but the Blue Jackets will need to qualify him to maintain his rights. Therefore, this $6 million amount should – barring the unforeseen – guarantee Johansen to make that $6 million amount in the following season, and beyond.
Now that the negotiations are over and Johansen did clear access to return to the United States – Johansen is a native of Vancouver, British Columbia – the bigger concern is his level of conditioning, something that from both a physical and ‘game shape’ standpoint, will limit him in the earlier part of the season.
Johansen did complete a series of conditioning tests with Blue Jackets Strength and Conditioning coach Kevin Collins but head coach Todd Richards is still unsure as to whether he’ll be in fit and sharp enough to play and participate against the Buffalo Sabres tonight at 7 P.M. for the Blue Jackets’ season opener.
Although any hard feelings that may have occurred between Johansen/Overhardt and the Blue Jackets have ended, Blue Jackets General Manager (GM) Jarmo Kekalainen expressed the most appropriate sentiments:
“Obviously very pleased to get this over with,” Kekalainen said. “I talked with Joey briefly already and told him, basically, to get his butt over here and let’s get to work. I wish this all could have been avoided, but it was something that was all necessary for us to go through to get the deal done. Now it’s done and we move forward. He’s a big part of our team.”