The Columbus Blue Jackets are nowhere close to locking up 21-year-old man-child, restricted free agent, and franchise cornerstone Ryan Johansen. Not only are negotiations proceeding slowly, but it would seem that the Blue Jackets' insistence on signing a short-term "bridge deal" with their best forward is causing the negotiation process to morph into something acrimonious.
"We’re not even close," Johansen told Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch this weekend. "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."
"I’ve earned more than a two- or three-year deal with my play," continued the 30 goal scorer. "It seems a little disrespectful, to be honest. I want to play in Columbus, and I want to be a Blue Jacket, but I want to get this done. It seems like a slap in the face."
Since Johansen was selected with the fourth overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the two-way center and the Blue Jackets have had an often fractious relationship. Though Johansen emerged as a plus defensive force and led the club to the postseason with an almost heroic scoring streak down the stretch, he's only one year removed from being a healthy scratch in the playoffs. The Calder Cup playoffs.
Johansen implied to the Dispatch that his conditioning remains a concern for the Blue Jackets, and that the club wasn't pleased when he decided to return to British Columbia for the summer rather than remaining in Columbus to train with his teammates.
"The more I played, the more we won last season," said Johansen. "And I got better the more I played. I don’t see the issue."