NHL Trade Rumors: Columbus Blue Jackets Need to Keep Jack Johnson

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2013

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 19: Jack Johnson #7 of the Columbus Blue Jackets plays against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on January 19, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The NHL trade deadline is less than a month away, and the Columbus Blue Jackets need to avoid trading away Jack Johnson.

Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review suggests that the Pittsburgh Penguins are interested in the defenseman. Although it would be a good move for the Penguins, the Blue Jackets need to keep Johnson and build for the future.

The defenseman has two goals and eight assists this season. Those stats aren't jaw-dropping, but the team needs to build around a young nucleus.

Johnson is only 26 years old and is signed through the 2017-2018 season. His contract is going to keep his salary from exceeding $5 million for the duration, and there won't be a better value available to the team.

Columbus is currently riding a season-high three-game winning streak. Johnson has recorded a goal and an assist during the streak.

Despite having the worst record in the NHL, the Blue Jackets are playing close games. The team has played in 16 games decided by one goal, including nine straight. The Blue Jackets have faced the insanely hot Chicago Blackhawks three times this season, and they have lost each game by one goal.

There are solid building blocks on this team, and Johnson is one of the better players. When the Los Angeles Kings traded Johnson for the disgruntled Jeff Carter last season, Columbus got a good deal.

Johnson had four goals and 10 assists in 21 games with his new team. He's had a slight drop-off this season, but the team also jettisoned captain Rick Nash in the offseason.

Columbus has struggled to score without its all-time leading scorer, but they are at least being competitive. Johnson has a chance to lead this team in the future.

The former No. 3 overall pick has been solid on the power play. 

After finishing with the worst record in the NHL last year, Columbus has the best odds to get the No. 1 pick. Trades have helped them add a couple more first-round picks, so the team has three picks in the first round to help build for the future.

With Johnson, R.J. Umberger and James Wisniewski signed for the foreseeable future, the Blue Jackets have talent to build on. Johnson and Wisniewski will solidify the defense, and the team has 2012 first-round pick Ryan Murray going through the system.

The three draft picks in this year's draft gives fans hope for the future, and Columbus needs to keep Johnson as part of its core.


*All stats are from ESPN.com