Ryan Johansen

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


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.”

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.