After a breakout 33-goal season, Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen is seeking a bigger payday. But he and Columbus are far apart on just how big, and Johansen isn't planning to report to camp when it opens tomorrow. So the Blue Jackets just pulled something I don't know that I've ever seen a team do, at least not via the usual anonymous leak: they publicly announced the contract terms that Johansen has rejected.

Advertisement

That is some cold-ass shit. (If you believe he turned down the $32M/6, which is a little surprising because it would still let him ink his next deal before his age-28 season.) And it's working already—just look at fans on Twitter calling Johansen greedy.

Johansen is seeking in the neighborhood of $6.5 million a season. The Blue Jackets had countered with a short-term "bridge" deal worth about $3.5M a year over two years, citing the market rate set by budding stars like Matt Duchene and Derek Stepan. But Johansen didn't bite—and as a restricted free agent, isn't obligated to show up for training camp without a deal. (Which is why it's inaccurate to say he's "holding out.")

So Columbus's executives have taken the contract battle unsettlingly public. The teams is publicly discussing its line combinations for a roster without Johansen on it. Yesterday, GM Jarmo Kekalainen issued warnings and veiled threats to both Johansen and agent Kurt Overhardt.

"But this shouldn't be about a setting a new standard (for a player coming out of his entry-level contract), or an agent breaking records."

[...]

"We're going to exhaust every option to get a contract done before camp," Kekalainen said. "After that, we'll focus just on the team, the guys who are here."

Asked if that meant the Blue Jackets would no longer negotiate with Overhardt once camp opened, Kekalainen paused.

"Draw your own conclusions."

The Blue Jackets are not pulling punches, nor should they be—they have all the leverage, and if Johansen hasn't received an offer sheet by now he's not going to. (NHL teams are remarkably cowardly about using offer sheets the way they're intended.)

Advertisement

But something about publicly releasing contract offers seems straight out of the playbook of a dysfunctional franchise—even though the Blue Jackets appear quite competently run under John Davidson. Still, I'm going to ignore the ickiness, because I will never say no to a peek behind the curtain at the hard numbers of negotiations.