Zach is back, and with plenty of time to spare.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to terms with Zach Werenski on a three-year deal worth $15 million, the team confirmed Monday morning. NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes was first to report that Werenski was close to a deal with the Blue Jackets.
* BREAKING NEWS*— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) September 9, 2019
From what Im told, @BlueJacketsNHL are close to signing Defenseman @ZachWerenski
to a 15M Deal over 3Years. This would be huge for CBJ securing of the Top young D in the game.@NHL @NHLNetwork @usahockey #HockeyTwitter
Werenski was fourth on the Blue Jackets in assists and sixth in points during the 2018-2019 campaign, and has put up 128 points in his first three NHL seasons. He's a big-minutes, points-producing defenseman who has become an integral part of their success, and locking him up to a team-friendly deal is huge – especially as training camp is set to begin later this week in Columbus.
Widely viewed as at least a top-25 defensemen in the league, the importance of this Werenski signing cannot be understated. Here are the contract details, via The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun:
Werenski contract breakdown: $4M in Year 1, $4M in Year 2 and most notably $7M in Year 3.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 9, 2019
With what can best be described as a team-friendly deal, Werenski is now locked up for the next three seasons and is the second-highest paid defenseman on the team, trailing Seth Jones ($5.4M AAV). Jones and Werenski's contracts will each expire at the end of the 2021-22 season, with Jones UFA and Werenski RFA with arbitration rights.
With the luxury of having two of the top defensemen in the game under contract, should the Blue Jackets now have freedom to dish a few lower-tier blue liners for a forward, perhaps? Time will tell, but this signing by Jarmo Kekalainen should be celebrated for the time being.
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