The John Davidson-Kurt Overhardt/Ryan Johansen tilt just keeps getting more and more entertaining. Tuesday, of course, Blue Jackets president John Davidson told THN's Ken Campbell that
Johansen's contract demands made no sense. “When you see numbers that are thrown at us, we shouldn’t even respond," Davidson said. "That’s how bad it is. It’s embarrassing. And if the kid sits out, he sits out. I wonder if the agent’s going to pay him his money back that he’s going to lose by sitting out. “With the numbers they come back with…are so one-sided it’s nonsensical. It’s extortion is what it is. I don’t make this stuff up. I’ve been in this league doing this for a long time now and this one here, it’s baffling is what it is. This one’s baffling. Baffling.” Today the Columbus Blue Jackets had their media day and Davidson didn't take his foot off the gas. He gave three examples of contract offers the team made to Johansen and his agent - and remember, the two sides are still reportedly $3 million apart.
It's not known in which order these were presented to Johansen, but they paint a picture of where the team is at.
$6 million/two years - A standard bridge deal that would come with a $3 million cap hit. This model follows the type of deal Matt Duchene ($3.5 million) signed with Colorado and P.K. Subban ($2.875 million) signed with Montreal. Duchene had two strong years and one mediocre one in his rear view mirror when he signed that deal, but he hadn't reached 30 goals yet. Both of those deals were also signed under a slightly lower salary cap.
$32 million/six years - This deal, which is a $5.3 million cap hit, seems closest to a logical fit. Johansen would be 27 turning 28 shortly after the deal expired and set up to score the big contract in the prime of his career. This also is a competitive salary, slightly more than Jamie Benn who signed a five-year extension as an RFA, and slightly less than Matt Duchene's third contract, which pays him $6 million against the cap for five years.
$46 million/eight years - This deal would buy a few more years of free agency from Johansen, but doesn't significantly step up the cost. Remember, the salary cap is likely to keep escalating through these years and Johansen would be locking in at less money than arguably similar players - Duchene and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, two high draft picks who are projected to be high-scoring first line centres. It may not be ideal term or money for that term, but it's at least in the ballpark. Reports indicate the Johansen camp is seeking significantly more. Later in the day, Overhardt went on TSN Radio to talk about his side of the negotiations and while he wasn't as direct as Davidson was, Johansen's agent basically calls the Blue Jackets' publicizing of the process unprofessional.
“With all due respect, I don't think you do respond. I don't think it deserves a response and this is a business deal for a young man that is obviously just beginning to burgeon in his career and I just think it's business and it's private. It's between Ryan Johansen and the Blue Jackets. It's unfortunate, but I was raised to have integrity in what I do by the people that raised me and it's unfortunate that they've taken this course but we're just going to ignore it and try to work in good faith to get a deal done."
"So it's just a matter of making a fit and like I said before, old school tactics and personalization of things - it just, it doesn't do anyone any good. It's September 17 and the young man would prefer to be in training camp tomorrow with his teammates. But unfortunately, some people would rather talk about innuendo and personal attacks, rather than roll their sleeves up and work.” Oh, snap. Blue Jackets training camp is about to open and this situation isn't cooling off at all. Still, it's
not unprecedented for an RFA to miss a portion or all of training camp before signing a deal, bridge or long-term, with his team. The worst RFA situation since 2004-05 was Ryan O'Reilly and the Colorado Avalanche in 2013. It took an offer sheet for him to sign. Will the Johansen saga go that far?
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