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Blue Jackets sign Johansen

by Mike G. Morreale
Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson announced on Thursday that Ryan Johansen, the team's fourth pick of the 2010 Entry Draft, has signed a three year, entry-level contract with the club.

Johansen, who is scheduled to join the Blue Jackets' prospects at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., from Sept. 11-15, spent the 2009-10 season with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.

"We are pleased to have Ryan signed prior to the opening of training camp," Howson said. "He is a big part of our future and we look forward to getting his Blue Jackets career started this weekend at the annual Prospects Tournament in Traverse City."

In Portland, he joined fellow 2010 draftees Nino Niederreiter, drafted fifth by the New York Islanders, and Brad Ross, chosen 43rd by the Toronto Maple Leafs, on the same line. Johansen finished the season with 25 goals and 69 points in 71 games, helping the Winterhawks to the WHL playoffs one season after finishing last in the league.

According to Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch, Johansen will make a base salary of $900,000, but the deal could reach $1.975 million if the 18-year-old Vancouver native reaches all of his incentives. As with every entry-level deal, the first season of the contract does not engage until Johansen plays 10 NHL games.

Johansen has told reporters that he intends to make the decision to send him back to Portland "as difficult as possible" for Columbus. First-year head coach, Scott Arniel, even told that he was thrilled with the fact the organization drafted a right-handed center since his team is loaded with lefties, including Antoine Vermette, Derick Brassard and Sammy Pahlsson.

"Well, for me, I'm a playmaker with good vision, good hockey sense, and good puck protection."
-- Ryan Johansen

"I would really like a right-handed shot, but I can't do anything about that," Arniel told "We have all left-handed centers.

"It is what it is; everyone in the League is either looking for a puck-moving defenseman or a big strong, centerman, but I like what we have."

Johansen has been working out in Columbus this summer and, following the prospects tournament in Traverse City, will return to Nationwide Arena to take part in the team's training camp scheduled Sept. 18.

Johansen, who patterns his game after San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton, was asked to reflect on the Blue Jackets right after being drafted on June 25 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif.

"Well, for me, I'm a playmaker with good vision, good hockey sense, and good puck protection," he said.  "I'm the type of player that likes to play with a goal scorer -- somebody who can put the puck in the back of the net, like Nino Niederreiter, my linemate this year who put up 44 goals."

How about an opportunity to one day play alongside Rick Nash in Columbus?

"For sure that would be a tremendous honor," he said. "But that will take a lot of hard work. I'm willing to do it, so we'll see."
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