The Columbus Blue Jackets have traded center Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Seth Jones. And it was the right thing to do.
By William Chase
Amid weeks of trade speculation regarding center Ryan Johansen, the Columbus Blue Jackets have indeed pulled the plug on a trade that sends No. 19 to the Nashville Predators for 21-year-old defenseman Seth Jones, a scenario I kicked around just last month.
Said at that time:
It might take a Johansen to net a quality D-man, and considering the state of the team right now, and where they may or may not be in a few months, the Johansen saga will only get more interesting. Seth Jones of the Nashville Predators is a restricted free agent following this season, and with a $3.225 million AAV, is a name to keep an eye on.
Predators trade Seth Jones to Blue Jackets for Ryan Johansen in exchange of former No. 4 overall picks. pic.twitter.com/wSzVsuVXod
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 6, 2016
Johansen, a 2010 first round pick, represented a burst of potential, having turned in a career year in 2013 when he scored 33 goals and 63 points. Seemingly ready to take that next step into a higher-ecehlon of player, Johansen has taken a step back this season, with only six goals and 26 points so far.
Of course many factors lead to that. A lot of that may be traced back to the ugly 0-8 start to the Jackets’ season, and at 0-7 when John Tortorella took over in Columbus, which brought about the following scrutiny and possible disconnect between coach and player.
The interesting aspect is the talk that this move is “strictly a hockey trade,” and that it has nothing to do with the coach/player dynamic.
Kekalainen: “This has nothing to do with John Tortorella or his relationship with Ryan Johansen.” Said it’s strictly a hockey trade. #CBJ
— Rob Mixer (@RobMixer) January 7, 2016
The Jackets are struggling on the ice, Johansen is not playing like the “The Johansen of old,” and the club sorely needs a top D-man. Jones is a restricted free agent following the season, but Johansen is under contract through next season.
Columbus was right to get a talent in return now, than to risk keeping a disgruntled malcontent in the midst of an all but completely lost season any longer.
Seth Jones has one goal, 10 assists on the season, and was averaging the forth most ice-time on the Preds at 19:39. He is sure to boost the Jackets, who have been struggling on that end of the ice.
While I thought any potential trade might have been shelved until the offseason, it made sense to strike now. According to prior reports per The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline last month, it which it was evident a less than inspired Johansen was playing his best every night:
Blue Jackets’ center Ryan Johansen played a lethargic first two periods. Many of his passes were way off-line, and there were several neutral-zone turnovers and failed clearing attempts. I’ve seen suburbanites skate harder than on the Columbus Zoo’s holiday pond.
He surely wasn’t winning over the only critic that mattered.
At times benched, at other times a healthy scratch, Johansen was back to having to prove himself, and prove that he was worthy of a top line spot, having most recently been demoted to the Jackets’ 4th line.
#CBJ lines: Jenner- Dubinsky – Atkinson; Saad – Wennberg – Hartnell; Calvert – Karlsson- Bourque; Campbell – Johansen – Foligno.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) December 29, 2015
While this trade had to be made, especially for Columbus, let’s not fool ourselves in thinking this had absolutely nothing at all to do with Torts.
And that’s not a bad thing.