There has been a persistent thought that Jack Johnson was likely the first man out the door for the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline since his trade request became public earlier this season, but now Aaron Portzline of The Athletic (subscription required) reports that the team has reached out to re-open negotiations on a possible extension. Though neither side would comment, it’s an interesting turn in what was an expected breakup over the next few days.
Portzline adds that the Blue Jackets offered Johnson a seven-year extension last offseason worth more than $22MM, which he turned down.
Johnson’s ice time has gone back up since the report of a trade request broke, topping 20 minutes in nine of his last 14 games. As Columbus continues to try and solidify their place in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Johnson’s name has come up as a possibility for many teams around the league. His experience and ability in various situations was quite sought after, with a late first-round pick even expected as a potential return.
Portzline is quick to point out that if extension talks don’t progress, Johnson still could be traded by Monday’s deadline, but this at least opens the door to a possible return. The 31-year old is a valuable piece for the Blue Jackets, but is scheduled to be one of the top defensive options on the open market should he hold out until unrestricted free agency this summer.