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With Dubinsky locked up, Jackets’ next task is re-signing Johansen

Jul 12, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT

Ryan Johansen Getty Images

When the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Brandon Dubinsky to a six-year, $35.1 million contract extension, they were tying themselves to the man that might become the team’s captain.

He’s not their best player though nor does he claim to be. He feels that distinction will — perhaps already does — belong to Ryan Johansen, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The two share an agent and while Dubinsky described the negotiations for his contract extension as painless, it looks like Johansen’s have been more complicated.

“We’re not even close,” Johansen said in June. “They say ‘We want to sign you to a ‘bridge’ deal.’ We say ‘We don’t want to do a ‘bridge,’ and that’s the end of it.”

Johansen, who is a restricted free agent, described the Blue Jackets actions at the time as “disrespectful” and “like a slap in the face.”

Of course, it’s not hard to figure out why Dubinsky’s negotiations would go differently. He’s a known quantity at this point while Johansen, 21, only has one great season under his belt. Johansen scored 33 goals and 63 points in 82 games and was highly regarded even before that, but for Columbus to assume that he will just continue to steadily grow would be risky.

On top of that, Columbus is negotiating from a position of strength with the 21-year-old forward while Dubinsky could have simply walked away as an unrestricted free agent next summer if he didn’t like what was on the table.

“It’s important – not only me selfishly, to want him signed up and in the lineup to help our team win – but it’s important for our organization and it’s important for him. He wants to be a big part of this organization,” Dubinsky said.

Columbus was put in a similar position last season when goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky wrapped up his entry-level contract by winning the Vezina Trophy. That process was arguably even more complicated because there was the looming threat of him going to the KHL. At one point it looked like Columbus might even trade his rights, but they eventually agreed to a two-year bridge contract worth $11.25 million.

Perhaps the talks with Johansen will come to a similar conclusion.

  1. lowenni - Jul 12, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    Would really like my Caps to free up some cap space and sign this guy to a 6 mil offersheet. Little pricey, but we would have to give up only something like a 1st and a 2nd and 3rd and he’d be a great 2C behind Backstrom. That would be serious redemption for GMBM after the Orpik signing. I can only hope.

    Either way, Johansen looked awesome last season. He’s got size and tons of skill and he’s truly a star in the making. If the Jackets can continue to surround him with talent and Ryan Murray turns into the top-2 defenseman he was expected to (I see Vlasic in him), then the Jackets will be contending in a few years. Those are weird words to say together.

  2. phillyphanatic77 - Jul 12, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Johansen needs to wise up and take a bridge deal. I know he probably wants an Evander Kane-like deal but he just hasn’t proven it long enough. He looks to be a hugely talented player with a really high ceiling but that doesn’t always guarantee long-term success. He won’t get an offer sheet so unless he wants to sit out the season he must realize the Jackets hold the cards. Take a one or two year deal and outplay it. Look at PK Subban… he signed a bridge deal and then proved he was one of the best young talents in the game and now he’s gonna get paid like it. And he even had more of a track record than Johansen. There won’t be a Calgary coming in to save him like ROR, take the bridge deal and prove you’re a $6-7 per player.

    • 2qswing - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      Wow, I never thought I’d agree so much with a flyer fan but you (philluphanatic77) are dead on.

  3. patshal - Jul 12, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    Not lookin good

  4. bleedrangerblue - Jul 12, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Look what they just paid Dubinsky!! That makes this a difficult situation.

  5. vancouversportsbro - Jul 12, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Johansen will always have a home in Van City ;)

  6. stakex - Jul 12, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Johansen had a very good season, but you can’t ignore the fact he only had 33 points in the 107 NHL games he played before this season. Sure, its quite possible this was a breakout year for him…. but until proven otherwise, it could also just be a fluke. As such a team would be nuts to give him any sort of expensive long term contract.

    I can understand why Johansen and his agent would love to bypass the bridge deal most NHL players sign after their entry level deal expires. A bridge deal puts pressure on a player to perform, and a bad season this year or next could cost him a lot of money. However his play over the first three seasons of his career do not warrant it, and he needs to come back to reality and understand that.

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