The Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenceman Zach Werenski to a three-year, $15 million contract on Monday.
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports Werenski, who carry a $5 million cap hit on his new deal, will earn $4 million in each of the first two years of the contract before seeing his salary rise to $7 million in 2021-22.
Werenski, a restricted free agent this summer, posted 11 goals and 44 points in 82 games last season while averaging 22:53 of ice time per game last season. He added one goal and six points in 10 playoff games.
"Zach Werenski is one of the best young defensemen in the National Hockey League and we couldn't be happier that he will continue to be a foundational player for the Columbus Blue Jackets," general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "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 should ensure that Werenski will join the Blue Jackets for training camp after John Tortorella said last week he'd be "disgusted" to see the defenceman miss time.
"I’d be terribly disappointed. I’m not involved in the business part of it. But for a young man to miss one minute of camp - and I’ve said this with (Josh Anderson) - it disgusts me," Tortorella told The Athletic. "That guy there, Werenski, the way he has evolved here. He has shown so much determination, so much more confidence and attention to detail playing defence without it really affecting his offensive game. He has really grown as a player. I just don’t want him to miss a beat here. I won’t be disappointed, I’ll be disgusted."
Werenski is now the Blue Jackets second-highest paid defenceman behind Seth Jones, who carries a $5.4 million cap hit for the next three seasons.
The 21-year-old led all restricted free agent defencemen in points last season and trailed only Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Ivan Provorov in ice time. Provorov, Boston Bruins defencemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, Anthony DeAngelo of the New York Rangers and Marcus Pettersson of the Pittsburgh Penguins all remain unsigned as restricted free agents.