By now, the details of the seeming stalemate in contract negotiations between Ryan Johansen and the Columbus Blue Jackets are well known.
While it's believed the two sides have agreed on a two-year term, the gap in dollar figure remains large, with a reported $3 million difference between what Johansen's asking for and what the Blue Jackets are prepared to pay at this point in his career (see below for more details).
On Tuesday, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch offered insight into the Blue Jackets' state of mind, essentially saying the club doesn't want money to get in the way of Johansen's development.
Pierre LeBrun picked up on the Jonathan Toews comparison on his ESPN.com blog:
The nuts and bolts: It’s believed the Johansen camp, led by veteran agent Kurt Overhardt, wants the 22-year-old paid like some of the higher-end, young centers in the league (I’m guessing north of $6 million a year) and why not after a 33-goal campaign. Not to mention the drop-off at center on this team if Johansen isn’t playing. There’s leverage there for the player to be sure.
On the other hand, Johansen’s camp can aim higher with their comparison of young, franchise players coming out of the entry-level system. Jonathan Toews went from his entry-level deal to getting five years at $6.3 million a season in his second contract. Steven Stamkos' second contract paid him $7.5 million per season over five years.
Now, Johansen isn’t at the same level as Toews or Stamkos, but you get the idea at least from what the Johansen camp might point to as different examples for young stars heading into second contracts.
Portzline added the Blue Jackets tried to "lock down the kids" under former general manager Scott Howson, and the urgency to succeed was lost after sizable paydays, ultimately leading to a change in regime. That would explain their hesitation to over-commit, especially with the team on an upswing.
At this point, it appears as though the negotiations will drag on into training camp, with the lingering threat of an offer sheet hanging over the proceedings.