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…

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
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News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


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