The Columbus Blue Jackets have traded center Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Seth Jones.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Johansen trade was inevitable. After the contract disputes and his struggles this season, no one in Jackets management declared the 23-year-old center was untouchable. This move won’t help the Blue Jackets get into the playoffs this season, but the addition of Jones should provide a welcome boost to their blueline over the long run.
They were in the market for a skilled defenseman for months. Jones was already showing considerable potential as a blossoming blueline stud in Nashville, so that should continue in Columbus under coach John Tortorella.
The Predators finally land a true first-line center, who should hopefully mesh well with wingers Filip Forsberg and James Neal on the Preds top line. They were in need of more scoring punch up front and Johansen should give it to them. He could also benefit from joining a deeper team with established talent, veteran leadership and stable coaching.
Johansen’s an expensive pickup for the usually cost-conscious Preds ($4 million per season through 2016-17, earning $6 million in actual salary next season), but they need to go deep in the playoffs and they’re obviously hoping Johansen can help them achieve that goal. He’ll be costly to re-sign, but the Predators are obviously comfortable with facing that.
While I’m not surprised that Johansen was traded to the Predators, I thought they might get a little more in return than Jones. Johansen, after all, is a first-line center. Jones is a top-four defenseman with top-two potential. Should Jones continue his development, however, this could become a fair one-for-one swap.