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Vancouver's Ryan Johansen is staying in Columbus, says Jackets GM
Ryan Kesler's most likely on his way out, and Vancouver fans will be looking for a tall, young, right-handed replacement at center.
But don't look at Columbus Blue Jackets forward, Vancouver's Ryan Johansen. Not anymore, at least.
"Our ownership is strong, and as I said before, we would match any offer he could possibly sign," said Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen, to Ohio's Columbus Dispatch.
(Johansen is a restricted free agent this summer, meaning although Columbus retains his rights, other NHL clubs could offer Johansen an offer sheet – a contract of however many years and however much money they choose. If that were to occur and if Johansen were to sign the offer sheet, the Jackets would then have to match that offer or watch Johansen walk.)
"If somebody wants to waste their time and effort on that, that's fine for them," said Kekelainen. "We'd just match it and keep the player."
Well, I guess we should stop wasting time thinking about it then.
Finnish hockey players are known for being a certain way... they're gritty, they can defend anything from Sidney Crosby to the Alamo, and they're blunt on-ice machines that never fill in the 'we're not Swedish' chip on their shoulder. Maybe that's why Finland – with three bronzes and a silver since 1998 – is the most successful team in the NHL's Olympic era. (Canada has won three gold medals, but Canada has only won three gold medals.)
It appears Finnish GMs are cut from the same cloth, and are successful for the same reasons.
Kekalainen didn't draft Johansen. That was Scott Howson in 2010, with the fourth overall pick behind Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, and Erik Gudbranson.
But Kekalainen knows a good thing when he sees one and he knows how to hold onto them, and we should acknowledge him for that. (His predecessor wasn't so good at those things.)
Johansen – who played his junior hockey for the WHL's Portland Winterhawks – emerged as one of the NHL's best young centers this past season, a possible franchise player who exploded for 33 goals and led Columbus to the franchise's second-ever postseason.
The 21-year-old Johansen also had a terrific first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, playing point on the powerplay and anchoring the Jackets' attack (with six points in six games) as they team almost upset the Pens in a six-game series loss.