The Nashville Predators addressed a glaring need by acquiring Ryan Johansen, a true number one center, from the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Seth Jones.
There is no secret that the Predators are weak down the middle and needed a real number one center that can compete with the elite pivots in the Western Conference. Acquiring Johansen gives the Predators a player that has the potential to play skate to skate with players like Jonathan Toews and David Backes.
Key word here: potential.
Two seasons ago, Johansen recorded 71 points and flashed that potential of being an elite center.
This season, Johansen has struggled along with the Blue Jackets, recording 6 goals and 20 assists in 38 games.
Johansen, 23, is 6'3" and 218 pounds. He ranks in the top 10 of all centers in the NHL in faceoffs, winning 51.8% of his draws.
There is no secret that Johansen and Head Coach John Tortorella didn't always see eye to eye, and the key aspect of this trade will be how quickly Johansen adapts to the tutelage of Head Coach Peter Laviolette and assimilates himself in the locker room.
In giving up Jones, the Predators lost a second pairing D man that has offensive upside and is still growing his game as well as physically.
This trade speaks to the depth that the Predators have in the organization on the blue line. It also speaks to the inability of this team to draft and develop quality centers, which is troublesome for the organization.
The acquisition of Johansen will allow the Predators to properly slot Mike Fisher, Calle Jarnkrok, and Mike Ribeiro. While these players are serviceable, they are not first line centers. Getting them slotted on a proper line will hopefully increase their productivity as well as their line mates.
This trade will also obviously cause some shuffling among the D corps for the Predators. It is expected that perma scratch Anthony Bitetto will get an opportunity to seize a role on the blue line. Bitetto has some good upside, but he will probably not slot in Jones position on the second pairing. It will be interesting to see how the 2nd and third pairs will shape up with Jones no longer in the line up.
If Johansen plays to his potential- there's that word again- then this trade is a huge win for the Predators.
Time will tell.
And Predator fans are hopeful.