Jackets, Johansen inching closer to new deal

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen are inching closer to coming to an agreement on a new deal as the team has lately sweetened the pot for the prized forward.

Ryan Johansen has, again, inched closer to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The restricted free agent’s latest proposal to the Blue Jackets is a two-year, $9-million bridge contract, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

The Jackets also improved their original two-year offer from $6 million to $6.5 million, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

On Monday the two sides stood more than $3.5 million apart on a new deal, but the new offers narrow the gap within $2.5 million over two years.

“A deal would interest us — it doesn’t matter if it’s short term or long term,” Columbus president John Davidson told Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston Tuesday. “We just want something that’s fair to the organization and something that’s fair to the player. There’s got to be a framework there that makes sense where both sides will understand that it’s a good deal.

“That’s what we’re about, that’s what our ownership’s about, we don’t want to lowball anybody. We don’t believe in that. We just want to do the right thing.”

Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, and the Blue Jackets resumed civil negotiations Monday after not speaking for more than a week.

While Johansen has sat out from training camp, other restricted free agents have signed for reasonable salary cap hits, namely Nashville Predators defenceman Ryan Ellis (five years, $12.5 million); St. Louis Blues forward Jaden Schwartz (two years, $4.7 million); Dallas Stars forward Cody Eakin (two years, $3.8 million); and Boston Bruins Torey Krug and Reilly Smith (one year, $1.4 million apiece).

With top-six forwards Nathan Horton (back) and Boone Jenner (hand) sidelined and the Blue Jackets’ Oct. 9 opener just days away, the team would like its leading scorer back in the lineup.

Jenner is expected to miss approximately five weeks after suffering a broken left hand .

Johansen, 22, has yet to attend training camp. Both he and Brenden Dillon — the Dallas Stars’ RFA defenceman — have been skating with the Vancouver Giants while their agents work on reaching new contracts.

Originally, Overhardt asked for a two-year deal at $6.8 million per season, a request that was publicly blasted by Davidson.

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