After a breakout season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, netting 33 goals, center Ryan Johansen remains notably absent from Columbus’ training camp and reportedly left the city of Columbus on Wednesday—a day before training camp opened.
Contract talks between the two sides have been strained at best for several weeks now, and things came to a bit of a head earlier this week when team management stated that Johansen had turned down offers from the team for two years at $6 million, six years at $32 million and eight years at $46 million.
“We’re trying to do the right thing for our organization. We’re trying to be very fair to a good young man in Ryan Johansen who’s got a bright future here,” said John Davidson, the team’s director of hockey operations. “We’re trying to do the right thing. And all we’re getting is no, no, no, no.”
The 22-year-old center continues to reportedly seek a deal worth roughly $6.5 million per season after just three years of experience in the NHL. The Blue Jackets countered with bridge-type deals that would get Johansen to a bigger payday, but those discussions have led nowhere.
“We were talking about (a contract) just under John Tavares, who is largely viewed as a franchise player and (a member of) Team Canada,” said general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “And Jamie Benn, the captain of the Dallas Stars, also a Team Canada player. I often try not to get into comparisons to other players, but because of the way contract negotiations go, you have to.”
That would also put him in the same category as Stanley Cup winners Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, as well as Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom.
Johansen was selected fourth overall by the Blue Jackets in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He first competed for the team in 2011-12, skating in 67 games and scoring 21 points. The next season was shortened by the lockout, but Johansen only managed five goals and seven assists in 40 games. His breakout campaign came last season where he tallied 63 points in 82 games as the team’s first line center.
The Blue Jackets, who are currently at training camp, are preparing to start the preseason without Johansen. Should Johansen not be signed before training camp—and maybe even the regular season—begin, the club believes it is well stocked with young talent in forwards Josh Anderson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Marko Dano, Simon Hjalmarsson and Alexander Wennberg.