NHL free agency news: Blue Jackets, Zach Werenski agree to 3-year, $15M deal

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The Blue Jackets have re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Zach Werenski to a 3-year, $15-million contract extension, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced Monday.

One of the NHL’s top young defensemen, Werenski, 22, was the Jackets’ last remaining restricted free agent, signed only days before the team opens camp for the 2019-20 season.

 

“We couldn’t be happier that he will continue to be a foundational player for the Columbus Blue Jackets,” Kekalainen said in a statement. “He is a gifted offensive player that has continued to improve in all facets of the game and will be an elite player for many years.”

The deal’s average annual value is $5 million but, according to The Athletic, will pay him $4 million in each of the first two years and then $7 million in year three.

According to CapFriendly.com, the three-year deal buys one restricted free agent year and two restricted free agent years with arbitration rights. The extension expires after the 2021-22 season, when Werenski will be a restricted free agent eligible for arbitration and one year from unrestricted free agency.

Columbus has just over $10 million in projected cap space with the deal.

Werenski played all 92 regular-season and Stanley Cup playoff games for the Blue Jackets in 2018-19. He scored 11 goals and had 44 points during the regular season.

He has 38 goals and 128 points over 237 games in his first three seasons in the NHL after being taken eighth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. He finished third in Calder Trophy voting in his rookie season.



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