Re-Signing Ryan Johansen
Stop us if you've heard this one before: The biggest storyline for the Blue Jackets heading into summer is the fate of a developing young talent coming off an explosive breakout campaign. Last year, it was Bobrovsky. Now it's Johansen's turn for a payday.
He's a restricted free agent and is coming off a deal that paid him $870,000 according to CapGeek.com. Davidson and Kekalainen established a track record of handing budding talent shorter "prove it" contracts in St. Louis, and they handled the situation with Bobrovsky in the same fashion last summer, giving the goalie a two-year deal.
Johansen's circumstance might be a bit different, however. Goalies can have one good year and then collapse in on themselves. Forwards can do the same thing, but Johansen looked like a young Ryan Getzlaf at times throughout the 2013-14 campaign.
Do the Blue Jackets really want to tempt fate by utilizing a bridge deal? That strategy caught up with the Montreal Canadiens and P.K. Subban, the new cautionary tale for teams looking to shelter themselves from overpaying for an outlier season.
There won't be a more hot-button issue in Columbus this summer than the money and term of Johansen's contract.
How Does Matt Frattin Fit In
Matt Frattin had an interesting season. He was a must-have for the Kings in the Jonathan Bernier deal, but the 26-year-old never caught on in California. For the second time in eight months, the winger found himself on the move as the centerpiece of a trade when the Blue Jackets shipped Gaborik to the Kings.
He's a restricted free agent, and it will be interesting to see how Kekalainen handles the former fourth-round pick. It's tough for a veteran to settle in with a new team after missing training camp—just ask Horton—and Frattin has been blitzed through three different systems in less than a year.
He plays a north-south game and would fit in nicely on Columbus' second or third line, but with Alexander Wennberg and Kerby Rychel ready to push for full-time jobs, there might not be enough space for him there.
It seems unlikely that the Blue Jackets would have moved Gaborik with no intention of keeping the one roster player they received in return, but where does Frattin fit in on a young and hungry team?