Ryan Johansen. (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
RFA Ryan Johansen and the Columbus Blue Jackets still haven't come to terms on a contract, but the team is meeting with his agent this weekend; what is Marc Staal's future with the Rangers?; how will the Blackhawks get under the cap?; and more.
After weeks of silence, the stalled contract talks between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen's agent are expected to resume this weekend. The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline reports agent Kurt Overhardt is expected to meet with club management for its first face-to-face discussions.
Portzline claims the two sides have agreed to a two-year bridge deal, but remain apart by about $3 million per season. The Jackets are reportedly offering $3.5 million annually, while Overhardt is seeking $6.5 million.
If a deal isn't reached by Wednesday, Portzline notes Johansen will be asked to vacate his space in the Blue Jackets dressing room at Nationwide Arena and will be barred from the building. That appears extreme, but it's likely for insurance purposes. Johansen cannot train with the club without a contract unless he pays his own insurance costs.
The Jackets have also opened contract talks with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, but Portzline writes a deal isn’t close yet. Bobrovsky, the 2013 Vezina Trophy winner, will become a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights. Both sides have sufficient time to reach an agreement before then.
MARC STAAL’S CONTRACT TALKS AND WHAT THEY MEAN FOR THE RANGERS
New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News he's had “substantive conversations” with management regarding a contract extension. The 27-year-old blueliner becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer and is earning an annual cap hit of $3.975 million, though he’ll make $5.45 million in actual salary.
Leonard speculates Staal could seek a contract similar to that signed by teammate Dan Girardi (six years, $33 million) last season. But it will be important for the Rangers to avoid protracted negotiations with Staal that proved an unnecessary distraction in re-signing Girardi last season.
Cap space is also an issue, as the Rangers currently have more than $45 million invested in just 11 players. Joining Staal as potential unrestricted free agents are Martin St-Louis, Mats Zuccarello and Lee Stempniak, while Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin are their notable restricted free agents.
WHO WILL THE BLACKHAWKS TRADE TO GET UNDER THE SALARY CAP?
Speculation persists over which player the Chicago Blackhawks will move to become cap compliant. The Blackhawks are $2.2 million above the $69 million cap ceiling and must shed salary before the season opens in October.
CSNChicago.com's Tracey Myers reports veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya could be a trade candidate. He's an unrestricted free agent next summer with a cap hit this season of $3.375 million. His modified no-trade clause, however, limits where the Blackhawks can ship him.
Another trade possibility is blueliner Nick Leddy, who's a restricted free agent next summer and doesn’t have a no-trade clause. His age (23) and affordable cap hit ($2.7 million) will make him attractive for clubs seeking affordable defensive depth. Neil Sheehy, Leddy's agent, told ESPN Chicago he doesn't expect the Blackhawks will move his client.
ARE JOHNNY BOYCHUK’S DAYS NUMBERED AS A BRUIN?
The Boston Bruins also must shed some salary before the season begins. Currently perched $800,000 above the cap ceiling, the Bruins will become compliant by placing Marc Savard ($4 million) on long-term injury reserve. However, it won't leave sufficient room to re-sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith and provide space for other moves later in season.
It's been speculated throughout the off-season the Bruins could trade defenseman Johnny Boychuk ($3.3 million) as a cost-cutting move. CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty reports Boychuk doesn't want to be traded, but admits there's nothing he can do about it. His limited no-trade clause expired at the end of last season, meaning the Bruins can deal him anywhere without his consent.
That's good news for clubs like the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders, who lack skilled veteran defensemen. Boychuk is also a right-handed shot, which will attract the interest of the Detroit Red Wings and perhaps the Dallas Stars. Both clubs lack that commodity on their bluelines.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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