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Columbus trying to figure out ‘the right thing to do’ with Johansen

Jul 18, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

Ryan Johansen Getty Images

After negotiations for Ryan Johansen‘s new deal got off to a less-than-stellar start, Columbus president of hockey ops John Davidson took an interesting approach on Friday — discussing the situation publicly for the first time.

“Jarmo [Kekalainen, Columbus GM] is still working with Johansen’s camp. We’re a team that feels that if we have players that earn it, we will certainly respond with appropriate contracts,” Davidson explained, per the Columbus Dispatch. “We’re in a position here where we’re working with their camp, trying to figure out what exactly is the right thing to do.”

Johansen, 21, is coming off a monster breakout season in which he finished tied for 11th in the NHL in goals (33) and led the Jackets in points, with 63. He was a huge reason Columbus made the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history and performed well in his postseason debut, scoring six points in six games against Pittsburgh.

But that doesn’t mean Columbus is backing up the Brinks truck.

For all that Johansen did last year, it’s still just one year’s worth of work. And remember — this is a player who, at the end of the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, was benched by Columbus’ minor-league affiliate in Springfield due to lackadaisical play.

According to the Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline, rumors that Johansen wants a deal of four-plus years while Columbus wants a two-year bridge contract are probably accurate. That disparity in term is why Johansen was so irate following the opening round of negotiations:

“We’re not even close,” Johansen told The Dispatch. “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.

“I’ve earned more than a two- or three-year deal with my play,” Johansen said. “It seems a little disrespectful, to be honest.”

Since an offer sheet seems highly unlikely — Kekalainen’s already said he’d match anything another team puts forth — it sounds as though we’re in for a good ol’ fashioned staring contest between Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, and Davidson.

“We like Ryan Johansen, obviously. Who wouldn’t? But we’ve got to make sure,” JD explained. “We have to be a responsible club regarding long-term contracts.

“If Ryan keeps the upward trend, he’s going to have a long and very fruitful career. But we have to make sure we protect ourselves.”

  1. lowenni - Jul 18, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    Three years for 5.3 mil. He did earn the contract and with him leading the team in scoring he knows he’s the clubs most valuable forward and that they can’t afford to lose him, giving him the upper hand in negotiations. The fact that he has every intention of staying in Columbus is a good sign for the club but doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to be payed. Keep him around for a while, he’s got the skill to keep producing like he did last season on a roster that’s only getting better and more skilled.

    • thefranchise777 - Jul 18, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      Agreed! Take care of him well for three years or so, and let him earn a monster contract during that time. I am concerned, though, that if this doesn’t get finished before the season starts, and if they get off to a rough start (four game west coast trip two weeks in would be the big concern) Johansen really can dig his feet in.

    • hockey412 - Jul 18, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      If he wants more than 3 years, you have to think he’s asking LONG term. And if he is, you have to think he’s asking for big money. He really needs to take the bridge…the way that contract values are rocketing up, you’d think he’d be doing himself a favor for taking a 2-3 year deal.

      • lowenni - Jul 18, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        It does sound like he wants more than 3 years, but if he’s asking for 4+ he’s gonna have to bring his price down. He’s not gonna get something like 5.5 mil or 6 mil for five years, which I bet is close to what he’s asking. He would be smart to take a bridge deal in terms of years but he can still get paid. If I were him I would take something like a 3 year, 5 mil contract, but if he wants 4 he’s gonna bring his price down. If I was Kekalainen I would only consider giving him 4+ years if he brings his asking price down to less than 5 million, something like 4.5. 4.5 mil for 4 years could be good. Kyle Turris is only making 3.5, TJ Oshie is making 4.1.

      • jpelle82 - Jul 18, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        he wants 6 or 7 years is the issue… I personally don’t see how a guy can ask for 6 or 7 years when he hasn’t put in 6 or 7 years worth of work yet. that’s like asking for a years worth of salary up front on your first day at a new job. I mean he just got into the league and thinks he’s owed something…he should be glad he still got a shot after acting like a schlep in the minors and sucking ass the two years before this one.

      • avscup - Jul 18, 2014 at 8:41 PM

        If he has any confidence at all, he should milk a bridge contract, prove it, then reap the rewards. Matt Duchene is a perfect example. Went out and got better, stronger, faster and proved he was worth it!

    • stakex - Jul 18, 2014 at 3:11 PM

      Columbus would kill to sign him for $5.3 million over three years. However its pretty clear that he wants a crap load more than $1.7 million a year…..

      • stakex - Jul 18, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        Oh wait, you mean $5.3 per year for three years? That’s almost certainly not going to happen. More likely its in the range of $3-4 million over two-three years. Columbus after all has all the leverage in this fight.

    • blomfeld - Jul 19, 2014 at 12:19 AM

      “Whether they be Christian, Jew, or Muslim, or Hindu, people have heard the universal call to love a neighbor just like they’d like to be called themselves” – George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., October 8, 2003

      May God bless the ‘notion’ of NHL hockey in Ohio …. signed, SC Champion LA Kings Nation ! :)

      • chief361 - Jul 19, 2014 at 6:27 PM

        did u eat a lot of paint chips as a child?

      • cliffatola - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:14 AM

        Whatever you believe you might be wrong.

  2. mactruck27 - Jul 18, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    He probably wants to get an Evander Kane-like deal. The Jackets probably want to avoid an Evander Kane-like situation. Can’t really blame either side here.

  3. 7mantel - Jul 18, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Trade him to the NYR’s for Klein n Boyle ! We’l take him !

    • lowenni - Jul 18, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      Kekalainen would actually have to suffer from a mental disease to even consider that deal.

      • 7mantel - Jul 18, 2014 at 7:50 PM

        That made me laugh out loud ! Good comeback !

    • schneider99 - Jul 18, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      Can’t see that Columbus being crazy enough to even consider such a thing. It’s nice to dream though haha

      • 7mantel - Jul 18, 2014 at 7:49 PM

        Dreams are one of the only free things in this world !

    • rmccleary97 - Jul 18, 2014 at 5:39 PM

      Kekalainen is Finnish, not stupid.

      • 7mantel - Jul 18, 2014 at 7:48 PM

        I can dream !

  4. stakex - Jul 18, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Johansen had a very good season, and its at least somewhat reasonable to expect his play to continue or improve given his skill set. Its not a given however, and it would be crazy for Columbus to throw a long/expensive deal his way at this point.

    He can whine about disrespect all he wants, but the reality of it is only one third of his NHL career so far has been noteworthy. His first two seasons weren’t amazing, with just 14 goals and 33 points in 107 games. Obviously he eclipsed those number this year in a big way, and that could mean it was a breakout season….. but was it? No one knows. Its also possible, as history has shown us, that it was more a fluke than anything. Does Columbus really want to commit long term, big money only to see a significant regression next year? I think not, and its a smart move on their part to hold out here.

    Most young players these days, even good ones, accept the reality of the bridge contract. They sign it, spend two seasons proving they deserve the big bucks, than get paid big time. If you are truly confident in your ability, it shouldn’t be a big deal… and I see no reason Johansen is above this new norm.

    • thefranchise777 - Jul 18, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      He also needs to look at the precedent that Bobrovsky set with his contract. Bob was in the same boat: only one great season under his belt to negotiate from.

      If they both continue to play consistent hockey, both will earn very large long term deals.

      • uhokjoe - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        Bobrovsky had a shade bit better position than Johanesen as he had (i’m pretty sure) the KHL a knockin’

        There was some talk (or pessimisim) that Bob would chuck the Jackets and go play elswhere for bigger dollars. From my recolection of the discussions reported, he ultimately decided on the NHL for the prestige and the KHL was on a 1 year thing, i beleive.

  5. flyboystransport - Jul 18, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    3 years $8.1 million. ….what’s the problem?

    • flyerspsu - Jul 18, 2014 at 10:13 PM

      The 8.1 million

      • flyboystransport - Jul 19, 2014 at 10:05 AM

        $2.7 million a year for a 30 goal scorer is too much? Brayden schenn got 2.5

  6. tross16 - Jul 18, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    @7mantel your and idiot

    • 19inarow - Jul 18, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      Yet you write like one.

    • 7mantel - Jul 18, 2014 at 7:46 PM

      Learn ENGLISH before you try to insult someone you moron!!!

      • avscup - Jul 18, 2014 at 8:46 PM

        You need to explain the proper use of your, you’re and ur! He might understand then. Or is it than?

  7. rushledger - Jul 18, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    One year of great play doesn’t justify a big deal. Take a 2 year 3.5 a season or something and go from there. He was a spoiled brat with the falcons now he’s doing it again with the jackets.

  8. 19inarow - Jul 18, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    I’m glad he’s not on my team.

  9. justanotherphillyfan - Jul 18, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    Philly has a good relationship with Columbus in trading so maybe we can help :)

    Maybe both Schenn’s for this guy + a higher round pick would be a fair trade. They offered both Schenn’s for E. Kane at the draft and it got rejected so they are looking for a faster forward.

    • rmccleary97 - Jul 18, 2014 at 5:41 PM

      You know that Scott Howson is no longer the GM in Columbus, right? If Howson was still there, you could get Johansen and a 1st in ’15 and probably Prout for just one Schenn; maybe you’d have to throw in some terrible contract you want to get rid of to sway him.

      • jady41 - Jul 20, 2014 at 9:03 AM

        Thank the Lord Howson & McClain are no longer here. They would have given him the key to the city by now! Along with half of Springfield!

  10. rushledger - Jul 18, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    Mantel is extra retarded because Boyle plays for Tampa now, and Klein is a defensive d man why would you trade 35 goals for that?

    They’re not gonna trade him so stop with the dream scenarios where your team gives up nothing and you get johassen. You’re only making yourself look stupid.

    • 7mantel - Jul 18, 2014 at 7:57 PM

      Dan Boyle you moron !! You are a perfect example that man can live without a brain !

    • 7mantel - Jul 18, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      Now wipe that egg off your face !

  11. cliffatola - Jul 19, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    The CBA is rigged for the team to force them to take the two year bridge deal, so just do it. The longer these things fester the worse it gets and the only folks that lose are the fans. Their favorite players bolt town first chance they get and then they are sucked into buying another jersey.

  12. jady41 - Jul 20, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Joey needs to understand the benefit of a bridge contract and that he’s only had one good year so he’s not ‘entitled’ to a huge long-term contract. Duby has been in the league about 7 years (give or take a few) and he’s played numerous times in the playoffs, he’s a proven leader as evident on the ice and does the intangibles….ask Crosby. Joey has had one year, actually half a year, and has yet to prove sustainability. Those are the facts. If Joey comes down in his asking price and is realistic about it, the Jackets will reward him in the future.

    Where I believe the Jackets went wrong was with giving Jared Boll a big contract. True he is a fan favorite, but he’s ‘peaked’ for lack of a better term. 3 years at 1.7 million for a 3rd liner/healthy scratch…don’t like it.

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