No. 2 Ryan Johansen (C)
Birthday: July 31, 1992 (Age 24)
Weight: 218 lbs.
NHL Draft: 2010 1st Round, 4th Overall (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Nashville Predators: 42 GP, 8 G, 26 A, 34 P, 36 PIM, +10
Columbus Blue Jackets: 38 GP, 6 G, 20 A, 26 P, 25 PIM, -4
Acquiring Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones heavily changed the outlook for this franchise. For the first time in Predators franchise history they have a balanced offense and defense and for the first time in a long time they have a true number one center. Those two things make the Predators a top dark horse to win the Stanley Cup.
A meteoric riser in the 2010 NHL draft, Johansen continued that rise into his NHL career where he has put up three 60+ point seasons, one of which was a 71 point season in 2014-2015. He was also named to the NHL All-Star game during the 2014-2015 season.
Despite that steady rise in the initial part of his career, Johansen had a pretty off year last season. This partially can be attributed to his apparent conflict with his—let us just say—rambunctious Columbus head coach, John Tortorella. Tortorella was not completely out of line, though, as Johansen was not totally in shape and he had several bad defensive lapses throughout the season. That all led to him being traded to the Predators and the rest is history.
Johansen represents the most talented center ever to dawn a Nashville Predators jersey for an extended period of time. He has some of the best nerves in the NHL and will hold onto the puck until the absolute last second. That and his hockey smarts and passing make him one of the best playmakers in the league. He also has a 33 goal season to his name which tells you he knows how to put the puck in the net.
Where Johansen’s game needs work are in his conditioning and turnovers. There is a ton of reach in his game (he reaches for loose pucks with his stick instead of skating to them) and that very bad habit is possibly the most glaring sign a player has bad conditioning.
Though Johansen isn’t a notable defensive forward, he could limit the turnovers he makes. At times he seems to overestimate either his own smarts or that of other players, as he is prone to making blind passes to spots where he thinks players are. If there is a miscommunication between him and his target that turns into a turnover pretty quickly.
At the end of last season, David Poile said if Johansen came into next season in great shape he would be poised to have his best season in his NHL career and I would tend to agree with him. With good conditioning and the most potent goal scorer he’s ever played with at his side in James Neal, the skilled playmaker should top 50 assists in 2016-2017.
2015-2016 Grade: B
NHL Projection: Top 10 Center in the League
Ryan Johansen puts his first shot as a Predator top cheese.
All stats via eliteprospects.com.