Ryan Johansen

Will Johansen be the latest Overhardt holdout?


As you’ve probably heard, contract talks have not gone well between the Blue Jackets and RFA center Ryan Johansen this summer. Per the Columbus Dispatch, the two sides remain approximately $3 million apart in annual salary — Johansen’s camp is reportedly gunning for $7M, while the Jackets are in the neighborhood of $3.5-$4M — which is a canyon-sized disparity given NHL training camps open on Sept. 18.

As such, talks of a potential holdout have increased in recent days, thanks in no small part to the agent representing Johansen in contract negotiations — Kurt Overhardt.

More, from the Dispatch:

In 25 years as an agent, Overhardt has had at least six players hold out of training camp in contract disputes, most recently Kyle Turris of Phoenix in 2011.

In 2009, Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky, an Overhardt client, held out of camp for eight days before signing with the New York Rangers.

(Overhardt’s clients holding out goes all the way back to 2003, when Marty Turco missed the start of Stars camp waiting for a new deal. Another Overhardt client, Ryan Kesler, signed an offer sheet with Philly on the eve of Vancouver’s training camp in 2006.)

There’s no denying pressure would be ratcheted up for both sides should Johansen miss the start of camp. Aside from arguably being Columbus’ MVP last season, Johnansen would be holding out at a time when the franchise’s momentum has never been higher; the Blue Jackets posted a best-ever 43 wins and 93 points last season, and won the first two playoff games in club history — thanks in no small part to Johansen’s 33 goals (11th in the NHL) and 63 points.

Columbus has also built much of its success on the “team” approach, adopting a hard-hat-and-lunchbucket style while constantly preaching that the sum of the team is greater than the whole of its individual parts. Johnansen holding out would go against the grain, though Overhardt said the 21-year-old would have no problem making that decision.

From the Dispatch:

“[Johansen] is a very unique, top-line player in the NHL,” Overhardt said. “There’s a clear market for a player of this caliber; it’s a small market, but he’s one of them. There are several teams that covet his size, his skill and his continued upside.”

Asked if Johansen would have “a hard time” sitting out part of training camp, Overhardt was abrupt:

“Nope,” he said. “If he’s not in camp, the pressure slips to the other side.”

Stay tuned…

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.

Flyers’ Gagner to miss another week after Malone hit

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The nasty blow Sam Gagner took in Monday’s game against Carolina will keep him on the shelf for a little bit.

On Wednesday, Flyers GM Ron Hextall said the club expected Gagner to be out around a week with injuries suffered on the hit, delivered by ‘Canes forward Brad Malone (per the Inquirer).

Gagner suffered a fairly significant facial laceration, which forced him from the game entirely. He didn’t practice on Tuesday and, in a corresponding move, the Flyers called up Colin McDonald from the AHL to fill Gagner’s spot on the roster.

This is the second facial injury Gagner’s suffered in recent years. He’d previously had his jaw broken by an errant Zack Kassian high stick, while he was with the Oilers and Kassian the Canucks.

Prior to getting hurt, Gagner had two goals and five points in 18 games, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.