Columbus Blue Jackets restricted free-agent defenseman Zach Werenski is looking to ink a three-year bridge deal with an average annual value of at least $5 million, according to Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch.
The two sides have discussed contracts of various lengths, including a three-year pact, The Athletic's Aaron Portzline reported earlier in August. A three-year term would leave the 22-year-old Werenski with one more year of RFA status when the deal expires.
"We really appreciate him as a player," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said, according to Portzline. "We want him to be a big part of our team and become a leader. He's a great teammate and a good person. I'm confident that everything will get done and that he wants to be part of the team right from the start (of training camp)."
Werenski led all restricted free-agent defenseman in points during the 2018-19 season and ranked second in average ice time. The 6-foot-2 rearguard put together an impressive resume during his three-year, entry-level deal, recording 128 points over 237 games. His 38 goals rank ninth among NHL defenseman since he entered the league in 2016-17.
The Blue Jackets currently have the league's second-lowest cap hit with roughly $15.77 million in projected cap space and Werenski the only player in need of a new contract, according to CapFriendly.