The latest round of phone calls were placed on Friday, an attempt to see if anything had changed in the lingering contract talks between the Blue Jackets and restricted free agent Ryan Johansen. A step toward the middle, perhaps? A plan to talk again soon?

The two sides can't agree on much, it seems, except this: There is nothing new to report. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

The Blue Jackets' position: Johansen does not have arbitration rights. He does not have an offer sheet from another club to sign. He has had one productive NHL season and will be paid accordingly. Here's $3.5 million per year for two years. Blow us away and we'll talk motherlode, long-term contract in 2016.

Johansen's position, through agent Kurt Overhardt: Johansen is 22 years old and he's one of the top centers in the NHL. He is a budding superstar, the likes of which your franchise has NEVER seen. He will be paid accordingly ... $7 million per season.

With heels ground into the carpet, each side believes they have the leverage in these talks. And so the calendar flips, drawing ever closer to training camp as each side pretends not to sweat. Training camp opens Sept. 18 with physicals and testing.

There is still plenty of time to get a deal done, obviously, but ithis is the biggest gap between the Blue Jackets and a player at this stage of the summer. Even Doug MacLean and Nikolai Zherdev weren't this far apart when MacLean, in frustration, signed Anson Carter in 2006. (A few days later he signed Zherdev.)

At this point, it seems highly unlikely Johansen will be on the ice at the start of training camp. Overhardt will use that as leverage, as he has many, many times with clients in the last decade, including Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky in 2009 when he played for the New York Rangers.

The Blue Jackets, thus, must be prepared to play without Johansen in the lineup. They've already had discussions to that end.

There are numerous NHL free agents out there who will be heading to NHL camps under tryout agreements if they don't sign contracts. Saku Koivu, Dustin Penner, Michal Handzus, Andrei Loktionov, David Steckel, Ryan Malone, Ville Leino, Colin Fraser, Daniel Carcillo, Ryan Carter, and others are all still on the UFA market.