Jackets Sign Top Pick Johansen

The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed Ryan Johansen to a 3-year entry level deal, according to Puck-Rakers.  Johansen, the Blue Jackets’ No. 4 overall pick from the 2010 entry draft, is a candidate to be returned to Portland of the WHL where his WinterHawks are considered an early favourite to contend for the CHL’s Memorial Cup.

According to the Columbus Dispatch report, Johansen will earn a base salary of $900,000 that could reach as high as $1.975 million with incentives.  Johansen projects as a sizable playmaking centre at 6’2″ and 192 lbs, but most scouting reports peg him as a sure bet to return to junior this season to work on his play and develop his strength.  In 71 games with the Portland WinterHawks in 2009-10, Johansen piled up 69 points on 25 goals and 44 assists.

Johansen was selected one slot ahead of his WinterHawks’ teammate and linemate Nino Niederreiter, who was taken 5th overall by the New York Islanders.  Johansen seemed excited about the potential of one day lining up Rick Nash, telling NHL.com: “For sure that would be a tremendous honor,” but that will take a lot of hard work. I’m willing to do it, so we’ll see.”

Columbus has a dearth of right-handed centremen at their immediate disposal, but it’s unlikely that first year head coach Scott Arniel and management would move to rush Johansen through their system:

“I would really like a right-handed shot, but I can’t do anything about that,” Arniel told NHL.com. “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.”

Although it would take nothing short of a miracle (or some Kevin Lowe-like management) for Johansen to crack the roster, the Port Moody, BC native plans on making it a difficult decision for Blue Jackets’ management to send him back to the WHL.