Blue Jackets ink Werenski to 3-year, $15M contract
Eliot J. Schechter / National Hockey League / Getty

The first major restricted free-agent domino has fallen.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed defenseman Zach Werenski to a three-year, $15-million contract, the team announced on Monday.

Werenski's new deal runs through the 2021-22 season, and he'll remain a restricted free agent with arbitration eligibility when it expires.

Werenski will earn $7 million in the third year of the contract, according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. That ensures he'll receive a qualifying offer of no less than that amount prior to a potential fourth year should the two sides fail to negotiate another deal before then.

The 22-year-old has been an instrumental part of the Blue Jackets' blue line while recording 128 points over 237 contests throughout his entry-level contract. He also led all restricted free-agent defensemen in points during the 2018-19 campaign and ranked second in average ice time.

His 38 goals rank ninth among NHL rearguards since entering the league in 2016-17.

Getting Werenski signed prior to training camp has provided a bright spot after an otherwise difficult offseason for the Blue Jackets. The club watched forwards Matt Duchene and Artemi Panarin walk in free agency, along with netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.

The Blue Jackets hold $10.76 million in projected cap space with a nearly full roster and no remaining players needing a new contract, according to CapFriendly.

Blue Jackets ink Werenski to 3-year, $15M contract
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