The Columbus Blue Jackets have had a problem retaining star players over the years. It seemed possible that Zach Werenski could be the next to be on the move in the not too distant future. Well you can forget about that for now because on Thursday night the Blue Jackets announced the team has signed Werenski to a whopping six-year, $57.5 million contract that will make him one of the highest paid defensemen in the entire NHL.
He is under contract for this season at a $5 million salary cap hit with his new deal kicking in for the start of the 2022-23 season.
The signing comes just a week after the Blue Jackets traded his long-time defense partner, Seth Jones, to the Chicago Blackhawks where he promptly signed an eight-year contract that pays him $9.5 million per season.
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Werenksi appeared in 35 games for the Blue Jackets this past season, scoring seven goals to go with 13 assists. During the first five years of his career he has already proven to be one of the best offensive-minded defensemen in the entire NHL. Based on that they were always going to have to pay to keep him, but there had to be added incentive and pressure to make sure he stayed in Columbus after so many other players before him have left town.
Is it an overpay by the Blue Jackets? Maybe. But Werenski is an outstanding player, the Blue Jackets have the salary cap space, and they needed to keep a star.
The contract reportedly has a full no-movement clause in years two through five of the contract, while the sixth year includes a modified no-trade clause.