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

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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.”

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.