Coming off a terrific season, the 21-year-old Johansen is finished with his entry-level contract, meaning he's in need of a new deal. Often these second contracts are a snap but that doesn't seem to be the case for Johansen. He and the Blue Jackets have pretty different ideas at this point as to where they should go from here.
The quotes from Johansen won't give Columbus fans the warm and fuzzies. From Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:
"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."
The Blue Jackets want to sign Johansen to a two- or three-year contract, which would expire when he still was a restricted free agent.
Johansen, 21, who led the Blue Jackets and was 11th in the NHL with 33 goals last season, wants at least a four-year deal, sources said, after which he would become an unrestricted free agent.
Johansen also explained how he feels he has earned a bigger deal and said this feels like a "slap in the face." So this is going well.
You can definitely understand where Johansen is coming from, he feels he's already earned it and with 33 goals last season, it's a strong argument. But as we see time and time again, there isn't a ton of leverage for him in this spot.
As an RFA he is free to sign offer sheets with teams starting July 1 but the offer sheet is a very rarely used tool and the Blue Jackets have already said they'll match any offer sheet. Even further decreasing the odds it gets used is that teams are going to be a bit more reluctant to surrender first-round draft picks given what 2015 promises to have in terms of talent.
We saw this battle wage a couple of years ago between the Canadiens and P.K. Subban, who actually missed the start of the season. Eventually he relented and agreed to a bridge deal but that's already up and given the last two seasons he had, it's going to break the Habs' bank. If they could do it again, perhaps they would have taken the long-term deal.
There is still a lot of time to try and work something out but they also have a lot of work to do from the sounds of it and certainly the Jackets don't want to risk damaging a relationship with a top player so early in his career but they have their budget and ideas and fact is, when teams are dealing with RFAs, they have a ton more leverage and will usually win out.
Johansen, selected fourth overall by Columbus in 2010, played all 82 games for the Jackets last season, picking up 33 goals and 30 assists, taking a massive step from his first two seasons in the NHL.