Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Jackets, Preds Swap Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen in Blockbuster Trade

Good luck predicting who got the better of this trade.

Two extremely talented rising NHL stars were dealt on Wednesday as Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones switched cities and both G.M.'s claimed they've finally acquired that which they've been coveting.

Columbus, stuck in the Metropolitan cellar with an NHL worst 33 points, signals that it has gone into rebuild mode by electing to pick up a quality youthful defenseman who could anchor their blueline for years.

The Predators, one of the stingiest defenses in the league but second to last in the uber competitive Central Division in goals scored, get the top flight center they feel can break open some of those close games they find themselves in.

In a perfect world, both teams would be better from this trade. But in reality there are contracts to talk about. Jones is in the final year of his entry-level deal so the Jackets will need to assess their compatability and, if he's a fit, be ready to shell out some cash.

Johansen's salary jumps to six million next year, and at the end of next season he'll be eligible for arbitration. There's also the fact that Johansen had a very lengthy contract dispute before signing with Columbus prior to the 2014-2015 season. None of that was nearly enough to deter the Predators from acquiring the services of the type of offensive playmaker they've long coveted and not been able to lock down.

"In my belief we accomplished something that we haven't been able to do in 18 years of our history, and that's to acquire a No. 1 centre," said Predators G.M. David Poile.

In Columbus those same sentiments were echoed. Jones, two years younger than Johansen at 21, could be the guy that spearheads a Columbus rebuild that is bound to happen. "We've been looking for a defenceman for a long time," said Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. "To get a guy this good you have to give up something real good."

It may be hard to determine which team, if any, will come out better in this deal. But it's not hard to tell which player is going to be happier, at least in the short term. Johansen goes from a last-place team and a coach that was fairly critical of his performance, to a playoff team and a coach and management that feels he is the solution to all their problems. That's a hard situation to top.

As for Jones, things are a little more difficult to read. He'll start eating crucial top-line minutes in Columbus and be under the watchful eye of a very ornery John Tortorella. It's sink or swim time for the 21-year-old. Unfortunately, he'll start from a "sink" position and try to get his head above water with a very dysfunctional organization, before swimming. Maybe it's the perfect role for Jones. He'll be a big fish on the Jackets blue line. He'll have a chance to help engineer a massive turnaround. It's not an easy job, but it most certainly could be rewarding.