The Columbus Blue Jackets locked down one of their stars for the long-term on Thursday night.
Forward Cam Atkinson and the Blue Jackets agreed to a seven-year, $40.25 million contract extension, according to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. Atkinson will remain in Columbus through the 2024-25 season.
Atkinson was originally set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, where his salary called for him to earn $3.5 million. With the extension, the former All-Star’s yearly average increases to $5.75 million per season and any uncertainty that revolved around his future entering the season was quickly resolved.
Since the 28-year-old signed a three-year deal with Columbus in 2015, he has proven that he is worth a lengthy investment. In the past two seasons, Atkinson has totaled 115 points including career-high marks with 35 goals and 27 assists in 2016-17.
“It’s about protecting the franchise,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said after Atkinson signed in 2015. “We can’t just let players walk into the unrestricted free agency without getting anything for them at the stage were in with our club. Cam’s been a big part of our team. He’s a good player for us and he remains so.”
Atkinson’s deal is one of the longest that the Blue Jackets have offered since they broke into the league at the start of the 2001 season. Former captain Rick Nash earned an eight-year extension but after a trade to the New York Rangers, he never finished that deal with Columbus. After being acquired in 2016, Seth Jones signed on for six years, as did forward Alexander Wennberg, who signed a six-year deal worth $29.4 million with Columbus last season