Yegor Chinakhov bets on himself by signing a two-year bridge contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets

Last week, Yegor Chinakhov signed a very team-friendly two-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets. In doing so, he gives himself a chance to earn more later.
Nashville Predators v Columbus Blue Jackets
Nashville Predators v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

Don Waddell's first contract signing as GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets was a big one. By extending Russian winger Yegor Chinakhov, he retains a skilled young winger whose best days are still ahead.

Many of us (including yours truly) thought that Chinakhov would be extended long-term. In spite of several long IR stints in his young career, Yegor has been a standout player for the Blue Jackets. Dare I say it: he looks like a future star.

Over three seasons, Chinakhov has posted 27 goals and 56 points in 145 NHL games. Those numbers may not jump into your face and scream star; but the young Russian winger has persevered through injuries, inconsistent line shuffling, and a real lack of supporting cast around him. Especially down the middle.

In fact, the eye test over the last couple of seasons tells me that Chinakhov has been criminally underrated by his head coaches. He's not a perfect player, by any means - but, he has one of the best wrist shots in the world, and his two-way game has come a long way.

Did I mention he skates like the wind, too? When you put it all together, he's quickly becoming one of the most exciting young players the Jackets have.

By signing a two year extension, Chinakhov takes a cap hit of just $2.1 million annually. Basically, his AAV is right on par with his production - which would have him on the third line of a contending team.

But, when you compare his AAV to his potential, and where I think he will be by the end of this contract: this looks like a very team friendly deal. In fact, I can see him being a 30-40 goal guy in each of the next two seasons. He was nearly on that pace this season.

With the team mired in struggles, he started the year in the AHL. Quickly, he made it evident that he didn't belong there, by scoring 3 goals and 4 points in 3 games played. Once recalled to the NHL, he never looked back.

Chinakhov scored 16 goals with the Jackets this season, in just 53 games. This is a 25 goal pace over a full season - which would have led the team, had he stayed healthy.

He did this while typically on a line with a rookie center (Dmitri Voronkov); often seeing their line shuffled over for more experienced players. It still doesn't make sense - this was arguably the best offensive line the Blue Jackets had this season.

Too fancy, I guess...

Chinakhov was a big part of that line's success. He brought speed, skill, and a lethal shot to the ice whenever he was called upon. By the time this contract is up, I think we'll look back upon it as one of the best AAV deals in the entire league.

At which point, Chinakhov will see a massive payday on a long-term deal. By signing the bridge contract, he's telling us all that this season was no fluke. He's ready to go out and produce at a higher level. He's betting on himself, which is never a bad thing for a highly skilled young player.