Johansen exploded last season, jumping from 12 points in 2012-13 to 63 points. Now a restricted free agent, it’s imperative for an up-and-coming Columbus team to resign one of their best players. At first, though, things looked pretty rough. Johansen said the initial offer received from the team was a “slap in the face.” Talks quieted down soon after, and no indication of progress was given for a little while.
This past weekend, we received another update on the negotiations, and this one was a little more positive. Word is Johansen and the Jackets made “significant progress” towards a new deal. On top of that, Johansen’s camp extended a two-year contract offer, the kind the young forward was so insulted by just a few weeks ago.
It’s quite a turn, but if you think about it, it’s not too surprising. While it was understandable for Johansen to want a deal with a longer term, it was incredibly unlikely he wouldn’t receive a significant raise (he made about $1.9 million last season including salary and bonuses). With over $14 million in cap space to play with and no other urgent contracts needing to be negotiated, Columbus was in a great position to keep Johansen with a deal he could appreciate salary-wise. The biggest hang up was length, and it appears Johansen’s camp is starting to bend from their previous stance.
Johansen’s agent continued to hand out more positive vibes, including his client’s desire to stay in Columbus as well as his excitement for the team resigning Brandon Dubinsky. If Johansen really is coming to peace with a short-term deal, the final hurdle may be all but out of the way.
Who knows how much more progress needs to be made before a contract is made official, but all indications are Johansen won’t be changing jerseys anytime soon. There hasn’t been one peep around the league regarding the idea of a team swooping in with an offer sheet, most likely due to the fact that Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said any such proposal would be matched.
Things could change, as nothing is official until pen hits paper, but it’s starting to look more and more like the Johansen and Columbus are on the right path towards ending these contract talks amicably. It would be another huge step for a franchise trying to prove it’s ready to compete with the league’s best.