The Columbus Blue Jackets are confident they will get a deal done with restricted free agent Zach Werenski before training camp, and so are his representatives. Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch quotes agent Pat Brisson who says it is their “intention” to have a deal in place before camp opens next month, something that will come as a sigh of relief to Blue Jackets fans.
Werenski has been one of the most productive defensemen in the league through his first three seasons in the NHL, recording 128 points in 237 games. He is also part of one of the very best pairings around when lining up beside Seth Jones, creating a dynamic young duo for the team to build around. Like most other restricted free agents, the 22-year old Werenski is likely looking for a substantial raise but might not have to wait for players like Mitch Marner and Brayden Point to set the market given he plays a different position. In fact, Charlie McAvoy and Ivan Provorov are the only other real star defensemen that remain unsigned to this point. That trio will be interesting to compare when everything is settled.
- Kris Versteeg signed a one-year AHL contract a few months ago to rejoin the Chicago Blackhawks organization, but may have his sights set on the NHL again down the line. The 33-year old forward told Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago that he isn’t playing hockey for the money anymore but still feels as though he can contribute at a high level. If Versteeg were to impress in the AHL and the Blackhawks wanted to add him to the roster he would have to sign an NHL deal in-season. He played last season in the KHL and Sweden, recording 22 points in 30 games across the two leagues.
- The fight for more equitable conditions and resources in women’s hockey continues overseas, as the Swedish women’s national team has announced their own boycott. The top 43 women will not participate in the upcoming Five Nations tournament, citing the lack of financial compensation for the players when they take time off from their non-hockey jobs according to Expressen. There was a previous deal that would help players cover the costs of the training camps and time away from their other employment, but it expired at the end of April and has not been renegotiated. The national team was relegated in World Cup competition recently after the Swedish Olympic Committee pulled funding following the 2018 Games. This comes at a time when women’s hockey is in a state of upheaval in North America as well, with the top players sitting out this season as they try to fight for increased resources.