Ryan Johansen missed most of training camp in a loud and public contract impasse.
He also missed his teammates.
The team’s 22-year-old leading scorer finally reached agreement with the club on a three-year deal that will pay him $3 million each of the first two years and $6 million in the third year. The cap hit will be $4 million per season, according to figures supplied by the office of Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.
“I’m really excited to have this deal done,” Johansen said in a statement released by the club. “I can’t wait to rejoin my teammates, coaches and our fans in Columbus and help this team build on what we’ve started the past two seasons.”
Coach Todd Richards was happy to have Johansen returning and also to not have the strained negotiations grabbing his or his players’ attention.
“(The signing is) nice on a couple of fronts,” Richards said. “We’re getting a good player back and with everyone else it’s not a story or a distraction that’s lingering in the background.”
Johansen had totaled just 14 goals and 19 assists in his first 107 NHL games before exploding for 33 goals and 30 assists in 82 games last season while leading the club to its best regular-season record ever and a berth in the playoffs.
But he was a restricted free agent and the negotiations between him and the Blue Jackets soon got ugly.
“Obviously I’m very pleased to get this over with,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said of the contentious talks. “I talked to Joey briefly already and just basically told him, ‘Get your butt over here and let’s get to work.'”