The NHL trading frenzy usually reserved for trade deadline day appears to have come early in 2016.
Just hours after a minor deal that sent Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn from the Flyers to the Kings, the Blue Jackets and Predators upped the ante.
Columbus sent center Ryan Johansen to Nashville for defenseman Seth Jones in a rare, one-for-one blockbuster deal of two burgeoning stars.
Johansen, 23, had been a part of trade rumors for weeks. He is just a season removed from signing a three-year deal with the Blue Jackets and was thought to have been their offensive cornerstone. But a slow start to the season turned into a reported quarrel with head coach John Tortorella, who was brought in after just eight games this season.
Johansen was a healthy scratch recently, but said Wednesday he had no issues with Tortorella.
Ryan Johansen: “My relationship with Torts, it was good. … He was just an in-your-face type of coach.”
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 7, 2016
Johansen has six goals and 20 assists this season in 38 games, but had a career-high 71 points last season. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds he has the size that teams covet in their playmaking centers. It’s also something the Predators were lacking. The Predators also had defensemen to spare, so Jones is on his way to Columbus. Jones, 21, is in his third NHL season and was already playing big minutes on a good team. He doesn’t put up flashy points totals but is a difference maker who will be expected to anchor the Jackets’ blueline for years to come. The trade wasn’t all that surprising to many. Johansen himself admitted he’d been hearing rumblings, even about specifically being dealt for his fellow former Portland Winterhawk.
#Preds Johansen: “I’m not going to sit here and lie, I obviously read a lot of stuff. I was hearing about it”
— Dhiren Mahiban (@dcmahiban) January 7, 2016
Johansen, the Jackets’ first-round pick, fourth overall in 2010, gets thrust right into a playoff race with the Predators. Expectations will be high immediately as he tries to help a team that is in the bottom half of the league in scoring, and is currently holding down the second wild-card spot.
Jones, meanwhile, the Predators first-round pick, fourth overall in 2013, goes to Columbus to become part of what surely will now become a total rebuild. The Blue Jackets, a popular preseason playoff pick, are dead last in the NHL and will be among the favorites to land the first overall pick in the NHL draft in June.