Thursday night the Nashville Predators travel to Columbus to play the Blue Jackets, but this Sunday marked a notable date where the two franchises forever altered their futures. On January 6, 2016 the Columbus Blue Jackets traded Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators for Seth Jones.
As we look back on the Jones for Johansen trade, we are lucky to have one of our own SB Nation brothers Eric Seeds (@Eric_Seeds) of Jackets Cannon joining us for five questions in the second half of this two-part piece.
If you missed the first half yesterday on Jackets Cannon, be sure to give it a read!
On The Forecheck [Bobby Misey]: Before Ryan Johansen was traded to the Nashville Predators, a lot was talked of his character in Columbus, namely his “on/off switch.” Do you feel like character issues were the core reason for his trade, his preference to pass instead of shoot, or the plain need for a defenseman?
Jackets Cannon [Eric Seeds]: I think it was a combination of both the switch that you mention, as well as the need for a defenseman. Columbus, for the entirety of the franchise’s history, had struggled to find a defenseman who could fill the role of “go to, shut down player.” Trading for Jones was a way to hopefully fill that need, and it has worked out as well as the team could have possibly hoped for as Jones has developed into a Norris-caliber player. At the same time, Johansen was rumored to have issues with the front office and coaching staff due to his tendency to take shifts off, and there was some strain dating back to his contentious contract negotiation and holdout for his bridge deal.
With those two together, it made sense to move on from Johansen if the right offer presented itself.
OTF: What was your reaction when you first discovered that Johansen was being traded for Seth Jones, and has that changed?
JC: Personally, I was disappointed in the trade at the time because Jones was a bottom-pairing player in Nashville (due more to the depth on that team than his own talent, but still). I thought the team should have gotten a pick back as well. Fanbase reactions were mixed, with some wondering what Jones’s ceiling was and others correctly predicting that Jones would become that #1 defenseman the team coveted.
Now, every member of the fanbase would make the trade again. Jones is seen as not only the top defenseman in franchise history, but also as the future captain of the club. He’s been everything the fans could have asked for, and more.
OTF: Johansen’s favorite player growing up was another well-documented pass-first center, Joe Thornton. The Blue Jackets currently have another such center, Alexander Wennberg. Other than John Tortorella not being the number one fan of either player, do you see any parallels between Johansen and Wennberg?
JC: Honestly, there’s not a ton of similarities there. Johansen was an accomplished goal scorer in Columbus, notching 33 goals during his All Star season. Johansen’s playmaking was always there, but he was an excellent finisher as well, on a team that lacked many of them. Johansen seems to be a powerful skater, while Wennberg is more fluid, with less wasted movement in his stride. I think Wennberg is the more accurate passer, but Wennberg is pass-first to a fault. Other teams recognize that Wennberg is not a threat to shoot (he has one goal and 41 shots in 42 games this season). Johansen’s ability and willingness to finish when necessary gives him a clear leg up on Wennberg, in my opinion.
OTF: Seth Jones has been phenomenal for the Blue Jackets. A snub for the Norris shortlist last season, he has made his way into several franchise record books. He sits at 8th all-time in points per-game, 3rd in assists per-game, and recently tied Rick Nash for the franchise lead in overtime goals. While achieving all of these accolades, what do you feel is the most underrated part of Jones’s game?
JC: Seth Jones’s ability to drive play and carry the puck in transition is underrated, despite his ability to do it consistently. Often, Jones’s offensive talents are overshadowed because of Zach Werenski, but Jones broke the franchise record for goals scored by a defenseman last season (as did Werenski, both finished with 16 goals in the 2017-18 season). He is a smooth skater with an ability to go coast to coast on a rush and set up plays and, in the same shift, hustle back into his own end to break up a two-on-one rush. Jones’ skating, especially for a big player (he’s listed at 6’4”, 210 pounds) is often overlooked but is key to many of the things the Blue Jackets do.
OTF: Jones (as of Tuesday night) leads the NHL in TOI, currently spending 26:10 of every game on the ice. He plays every situation, adapted to different defensive partners when Zach Werenski was off his game, and is heading to his second All-Star Game. Currently an alternating assistant captain with Boone Jenner and Cam Atkinson, could you see him captaining the Blue Jackets once Nick Foligno hangs up his skates?
JC: As I mentioned earlier, there is little to no doubt that Seth Jones will be the next captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jones took over wearing the “A” last season after drama surrounding Brandon Dubinsky being sent home from Las Vegas for a “personal issue” and Jack Johnson’s trade request as his minutes declined, and Jones flourished as a leader on and off the ice for a team that needed a steadying hand. He’s a calming presence on the back end, a threat to score from the blue line, and rises to the occasion when necessary (he played over 30 minutes per game in the playoffs last season). He will be the captain of the club one day, and Columbus could do no better in that regard.
Big thanks to Eric and our SB Nation friends over at Jackets Cannon for joining us for this segment! Be sure to give Eric (@Eric_Seeds) and Jackets Cannon (@cbjcannon) follows on Twitter. We wish the Blue Jackets the best of luck and hopefully plenty of wins over the Penguins!