The Columbus Blue Jackets announced on Wednesday that they traded center Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Seth Jones.
It's a swap of two first-round picks taken fourth overall. Johansen was selected fourth in 2010, while Jones was drafted in 2013.
According to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, there was no salary retained in the deal. Johansen will see his salary jump to $6 million next season, while Jones becomes a pending restricted free agent.
This is as big a blockbuster of a deal as it gets in hockey. Coming off a pair of seasons in which he scored 33 and 26 goals, respectively, the 23-year-old Johansen was the first-line center for the Blue Jackets. He's struggled in 2015-16 with six goals and 20 assists almost halfway through the year under head coach John Tortorella.
He was benched multiple times this season by Tortorella, who spoke with Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Tuesday:
No, no, no. Joey gave us some good minutes the other night. I’ve been honest about it. I think he’s been inconsistent. ... He’s got a ton to learn. ... He has more ability than a lot of players in the league. It’s trying to get him to get there all the time--to use that ability. And that’s a process. That’s a maturity level. And he hasn’t totally matured yet.
Johansen was just a small piece of a Columbus team that has struggled all season. Sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 33 points, the Blue Jackets have allowed more goals than any other team with 130.
Only one defenseman on the Blue Jackets roster who has played in more than 20 games this season carries a positive rating. While Jones doesn't have a positive rating, he does carry the possibility of becoming a force on the Columbus blue line in the future.
At just 21 years old, Jones' ceiling, like Johansen's, is high. He's shown he can be an above-average two-way defenseman who pairs physical play with a nice ability to carry the puck and facilitate the offense.
This is a move, though, that surprises ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun, who knew that the Predators were high on Johansen:
I was fairly known that the Preds liked Johansen. But for Seth Jones? Did not think the Preds would deal Jones.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 6, 2016
Nashville is holding on to a lower spot in the Western Conference playoff standings, and it gets a player in Johansen who could spark its offense. Playing in a Central Division that features high-powered teams such as the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars, the Predators have the 17th-ranked unit in the league.
Getting Johansen into a new system in Nashville could spark him back into a top-six forward, though it's too early to tell if the asking price of Jones was too steep. Either way, these two promising youngsters have new opportunities and settings to develop into stars.
Stats courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com.