The Columbus Blue Jackets continue to ink contracts with depth options, this time signing Justin Danforth to a two-year extension. Danforth’s new deal will carry an average annual value of $975K and keep him under contract through 2023-24. Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen released the following statement:
We’re very excited to sign Justin to this contract extension as he epitomizes the values we have as a team. Hard work, commitment, and determination. He has dedicated himself to becoming an NHL player over the past several years and his game has continued to grow throughout this season. He has become a trusted and valuable contributor on our team.
There aren’t many better stories of determination in the NHL than Danforth, who went from riding buses in the ECHL as an undrafted, overlooked forward, to becoming a regular in the Columbus lineup this season. Just 5’9″, the speedy forward spent four years at Sacred Heart University before spending nearly an entire season with the Cincinnati Cyclones in 2017-18. Three years overseas honing his game led to a one-year, $750K contract with the Blue Jackets organization last spring, his first NHL deal signed at the age of 28.
Now about to turn 29, he’s found some security and stability for the first time in his hockey career.
In 22 games with the Blue Jackets, Danforth–who is now a full-time winger–has five goals and seven points. While he started out with just a handful of minutes per game, head coach Brad Larsen has obviously felt more comfortable of late and has rewarded him with a ton more shifts. In the four games since the beginning of March, Danforth has averaged nearly 16 minutes a night, mostly skating on a line with Sean Kuraly and Max Domi. His place in the bottom-six seems secure enough for now with this new deal, a long-time coming for the former OJHL star.