You are 100% spot-on; placing a player on LTIR does not completely lift the burden because most of his money was paid in signing bonus.
Absolutely. As he goes, they go, and I really think him playing in the World Cup was a benefit to him. Been a slow starter in his career and that helped jump-start him before the season.
Oh, he'll be getting better - scary, isn't it? But good for the Blue Jackets.