The NHL’s restricted free agent freeze is beginning to thaw.
Monday morning, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski re-signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, inking a three-year, $15 million deal right before the start of Blue Jackets’ training camp.
The NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes was the first to report the news.
Deal should be official later today.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) September 9, 2019
The 22-year-old Michigan native was coming off an entry-level contract which paid him $1.78 million per year. Since entering the NHL, Werenski has averaged 13 goals and 43 points per season, impressive numbers for a kid of his age from the backline.
Before today, Werenski was one of several big-name RFAs who were still free agents, unable to find a suitable deal over the offseason. The list includes some of the best top young players in the game including Mitch Marner, Brayden Point, Brock Boeser, Patrik Laine, and Mikko Rantanen.
Good morning. It's September 6th and these young NHL superstars remain unsigned:
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) September 6, 2019
Last week, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella was asked about Werenski’s contract impasse and did not mince words.
“I’d be terribly disappointed,” Tortorella said to The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline. “I’m not involved in the business part of it. But for a young man to miss one minute of camp … it disgusts me.
“He has really grown as a player,” Tortorella added. “I just don’t want him to miss a beat here. I won’t be disappointed, I’ll be disgusted.”
The Blue Jackets coach also commented on the loss of the team’s superstars like Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Matt Duchene to free agency.
“I’m pissed,” Tortorella said. “I’m pissed for my players. I’m pissed for my organization. And I’m pissed on behalf of my city.”
Well, maybe this signing will help Torts be less pissed.
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