According to a report from the Columbus Dispatch, the Columbus Blue Jackets are preparing to start their season without forward Ryan Johansen. Columbus is looking to sign the young forward to a bridge contract, two years, $3.5 million each. Johansen would like to be paid like the top NHL center he believes he is, $7 million per season, long term.
While some may question the Jackets motives in playing hard ball with one of their star players, but Johansen has had one good season with the team. We are just one year removed from Johansen being a healthy scratch for both the Blue Jackets and the Springfield Falcons during the AHL playoffs. Johansen my see himself as a star forward, but he has a lot more to prove if he is going to get a big pay day.
Right now, most of the power lies with the Blue Jackets, as no team has offer-sheeted Johansen and he does not have arbitration rights. They will start camp without him and continue to work on a bridge deal that will take Johansen to 2016, where they will then attempt to sign him to a long term deal.
The Blue Jackets have roughly $14 million in cap space left, but they aren’t just going to spend big on an unproven player. The big risk in all of this is if Johansen is the real deal, they will have to pay him more in 2016. We saw this exact scenario play out with P.K. Subban in Montreal. While the Habs saved up front, they ended up paying Subban more in the long run.
A camp holdout will make for a negative start to both the Jackets and Johansen’s season, so hopefully a deal could be reached soon.