Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Will Johansen be at Columbus Blue Jackets Training Camp?

It seems like Ryan Johansen‘s contract negotiations are a never-ending struggle for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but we are fast approaching the time of year when that really starts to matter. Johansen and his agent have let this thing drag on all summer, but it is almost hockey season now, and training camp is right around the corner.

It’s starting to look like Johansen isn’t going to make the team’s training camp. This is nothing new for Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, who has had many previous clients miss training camp before coming to a deal. On their side of the argument, it doesn’t matter if Johansen missesthe beginning of training camp, not if it means getting the Jackets to bend on a deal.

“You have to be in camp the first day. That’s when it starts, and that’s when the team comes together.”
But for Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen, Johansen needs to be at training camp in order to be a true part of the team. “For me, the team is always first. Everything we do — whether you’re a star, a fourth-liner, a grinder, the tough guy, a depth guy — this is all about the team. That’s why you have to be in camp the first day. That’s when it starts, and that’s when the team comes together. It’s very, very important that we start as a team. To me, that is huge. That’s going to be a very serious matter from a team point of view,” Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch.

 

I previously wrote an article about whether Johansen and the Jackets will be able to get along after this contract dispute, which you can find here. That story has a whole new twist now, though. If Johansen misses training camp, or even just part of it, it probably won’t affect his performance as a player. But it will certainly affect his performance as a teammate. Not signing a contract before camp just to try to ink a better deal shows that Johansen thinks the Jackets really need him, which isn’t an attitude that has ever been successful in Columbus.

The Jackets seem to have the upper hand in the negotiations, knowing they have the right to match any offer sheet Johansen gets, although he has yet to get any. If he doesn’t sign with someone soon, he won’t be playing next season. If that happens, at 22, it could very well be the end of his career. I doubt his agent is about to let that happen.

It’s been rumored that the Jackets are offering around 4 million a year to Johansen, while his camp is looking for 7 million or more. That’s a huge gap, and I don’t see it being bridged in the little time before training camp. Regardless of what the final contract is, if he even signs one, Johansen will likely be missing the beginning of the Jackets camp this year, and that’s not something his teammates or organization are likely to be happy about.

There’s bound to already be animosity between Johansen and the Jackets, and this might push it too far. If Johansen becomes the next player who thinks he’s too good for Columbus, we won’t get the performance we need from him. We know that from experience. It’s a pity, though, because Johansen is so young. He has the chance to be a rising star on the franchise, but if these negotiations become a festering wound and last all season, we won’t see Johansen sticking around very long in Columbus. Here’s hoping they can figure this thing out before it’s too late for everyone.
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