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Relations appear to be strained between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen after the 21-year-old center characterized the club's most recent contract offer as a "slap in the face."
The former first-round draft choice (4th overall, 2010 NHL draft) is coming off an outstanding 33-goal season and was an integral part of the Blue Jackets' surprising playoff run.
|Ryan Johansen has expressed his frustration with the impasse in talks with the Blue Jackets.|
He is also coming off his three-year, entry-level contract, and is looking for a new deal that would keep him in Columbus long term, though the Blue Jackets seem intent to sign him to a two- or three-year "bridge" contract instead.
Johansen is not pleased.
"I've earned more than a two- or three-year deal with my play," Johansen told the Columbus Dispatch. "It seems a little disrespectful, to be honest. I want to play in Columbus, and I want to be a Blue Jacket, but I want to get this done. It seems like a slap in the face."
Johansen's camp, including agent Kurt Overhardt, met with Blue Jackets assistant general manager Bill Zito at the draft this weekend in Philadelphia, but that meeting has not yielded progress.
Johansen expressed his frustration with the impasse and didn't seem optimistic about gaining traction.
"We're not even close," Johansen told The Dispatch. "They say 'We want to sign you to a 'bridge' deal.' We say 'We don't want to do a 'bridge,' and that's the end of it."
When reached by phone Monday, Overhardt told ESPN.com that Johansen's camp wouldn't be commenting further.
"That's not our style," he said.
Johansen does have timing working in his favor, with the free agency period opening Tuesday at noon. The restricted free agent is allowed to negotiate with other teams, and with things growing contentious with his current club, he could become a prime candidate for an offer sheet from another team.
If he signs an offer sheet, the Blue Jackets would have one week to decide whether to match or not, though Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has reportedly stated he will match any offer sheet received.
Reached via email, Kekalainen declined to comment.
Johansen, who led the Blue Jackets during the regular season with 63 points, also averaged a point per game in his first NHL playoffs with two goals and four assists in the team's surprisingly competitive first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.