It doesn’t seem that anything — offer sheets, the salary cap, bridge deals — will get in the way of Columbus re-signing prized defenseman Seth Jones.
“I don’t anticipate any problems,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen said on Monday, per the Dispatch. “We’ll find a deal that works for us and a deal that works for Seth Jones.”
Jones, acquired in a midseason swap with Nashville for Ryan Johansen, is in the final year of his entry-level contract. Columbus immediately thrust him into a major role and Jones performed well, averaging 24:27 TOI per game while finishing with 20 points in 41 games.
Along the way, Jones was one of just four defensemen named to Team North America for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
The group appears to be on the verge of some major paydays.
Trouba, expected to meet with agent Kurt Overhardt this week to “strategize” contract negotiations with the Jets, was earlier reported to be asking for a contract that pays $7M annually.
That would be more than what another ex-member of this defenseman class — Toronto’s Morgan Rielly — received with his extension last week. Rielly, who like Jones and Trouba was a pending RFA, signed a six-year, $30 million deal with a $5M average annual cap hit.
Kekalainen told the Dispatch he and the Jackets aren’t “insistent on signing bridge deals,” which is what they did earlier this season with blueliner Ryan Murray (who signed a two-year, $5.65 million extension) and forward Boone Jenner (two years, $5.9 million).
In fact, Kekalainen’s words suggested the club could be ready to pony up big for Jones, skipping the bridge process entirely.
“We will have plenty of different options this summer come July 1,” Kekalainen said. “We will have enough cap space to sign Seth Jones.”