Breaking: Jackets breathe sigh of relief with latest extension!

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There have been quite a few things taking place all at once in Columbus, that it seems hard for the Blue Jackets to keep on top of everything. All eyes have been on star forward Artemi Panarin and the latest trade rumors that have taken over in Columbus. A recent report from NHL insider Elliotte Friedman revealed that Panarin told the Blue Jackets that he’s not interested in signing a contract extension “at this time" and as a result the Jackets placed Panarin on the trade block.

While they still have to handle the heat they're getting on the Panarin chatter, the Jackets made an important move on Saturday morning. Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today that restricted free agent defenseman Ryan Murray has accepted the club's qualifying offer, a one-year contract with a salary of $2.825 million for the 2018-19 National Hockey League season.

The 24-year-old blue liner tallied 12 goals and 60 assists for 72 points with 90 penalty minutes and a +2 plus/minus rating in 264 career NHL games with Columbus, including 1-11-12 with eight penalty minutes and +4 plus/minus rating in 44 games during the 2017-18 season. He also has chipped in 0-2-2, two penalty minutes and is +2 in 11 career games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Ryan is a talented, young defenseman with terrific puck-moving abilities," said Kekalainen. "He has battled some injuries early in his career, but we believe he has overcome those and will be an important part of our blueline this season."

Here is more information on the signing and Murray, from the webpage. 

"Columbus' first pick, second overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft, Murray has averaged 20:09 time on ice (TOI) during his five NHL seasons. He has twice topped the 20-point mark, including 2015-16 when he set career highs in goals (tied), assists, points, penalty minutes, TOI and games played with 4-21-25, 40 penalty minutes and 22:50 TOI in 82 outings. He made his NHL debut in 2013-14, tallying 4-17-21 and 10 penalty minutes in 66 games.

A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Murray has represented Canada in numerous international competitions. He helped Canada win a bronze medal at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships and that same year became the second-youngest player to represent Canada at the IIHF World Championships. He also participated in the 2016 and 2018 IIHF World Championships, winning a gold medal in 2016, and was a member of Team North America at the 2017 World Cup of Hockey tournament. Prior to joining the Blue Jackets, Murray spent four-plus seasons with the Western Hockey League's Everett Silvertips from 2009-13. He registered 22-99-121 and was +51 in 191 career WHL games."

With Murray in the books, now the Jackets can focus on Panarin. Maybe they could end up breathing a sigh of relief with that situation as well... why knows?