The Columbus Blue Jackets may have a problem on their hands.
Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch reports negotiations between the Jackets and soon-to-be restricted free agent and budding superstar Ryan Johansen are not going well. Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, gives the grim update.
“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.”
Yikes. To make things even more uncomfortable for the Jackets, 21-year-old Johansen said he feels he’s earned more than a bridge deal of two or three seasons and that the process feels “disrespectful.”
“I want to play in Columbus, and I want to be a Blue Jacket, but I want to get this done,” Johansen said. “It seems like a slap in the face.”
Johansen had a breakout year this past season as he scored 33 goals and had 63 points to lead the team in scoring.
Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has been very good in his dealings with players to this point in his tenure there, but it’s clear there’s a difference of opinion. Bridge contracts are all the rage with teams because they want to not pay out big bucks to guys that young.
The problem is when things like this happen and a player wants a long-term deal and ideally the big money that goes along with it. Perhaps the guy to look up to in this situation for Johansen is Montreal’s P.K. Subban. He too wanted to avoid a bridge deal and now he’s made it much more costly for the Habs to re-sign him this summer.