Talks between Columbus Blue Jackets RFA forward Ryan Johansen and the front office have hit an impasse according to a report in the Columbus Dispatch. It was always expected for the negotiations to be a slow process, as the team took its time signing Vezina winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to an extension. However, there is a difference between taking your time to reach a deal and burning bridges with your star player.
A tweet over the weekend from the Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline summed up the state of the negotiations:
Player/agent = “We’re not doing a bridge.” Club = “We’re not going long-term.” Player/agent = “OK, then, talk later.” Club = “Yup.” #parked
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) June 30, 2014
The Blue Jackets front office has been hesitant to hand out long term contracts; they signed Bobrovsky to a two year extension after his Vezina season. Johansen has made it clear he would like to stay in Columbus, but a short term “bridge deal” is understandably unacceptable to the young forward. At the same time, the 2013-14 season was a breakout year from Johansen (33 G, 30A, 63 Pts). The previous season he was scratched from the lineup and was often included on lists of players the Blue Jackets would consider trading. When he was lent to the Jackets’ affiliate for the 2013 AHL playoffs, Johansen was a healthy scratch. Therefore it is equally understandable why the Blue Jackets are hesitant to sign Johansen to a long term deal.
The other concern is whether another team would attempt to sign Johansen to an offer sheet. Columbus is currently ready and willing to match any offer that is put up for Johansen, but it would create a messy situation if it came to that.
The Blue Jackets front office has taken a “brick by brick” approach to turning the team into a playoff contender. One of the most important bricks in that wall is Ryan Johansen. Middle ground needs to be quickly reached before this situation spirals further out of control. Since qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and a six game run against the Pittsburgh Penguins, all of the news out of Columbus has been positive. A tumultuous contract negotiation with their leading scorer could counteract the work the Blue Jackets have done to turn things around in Columbus.