Johansen for Jones: why Columbus will get the last laugh

Seth Jones.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Wednesday evening was glorious. It gave us a good, old-fashioned hockey trade of an impact player for an impact player. No picks, no prospects, no retained salary, all real, no gimmicks. Center Ryan Johansen joins the Nashville Predators. Defenseman Seth Jones joins the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The natural question, commonly directed our way on social media over the past 24 hours: who wins the trade? As my colleague Jared Clinton has already pointed out, Johansen makes Nashville a better hockey team today. He’s the bellcow No. 1 center the Preds have never really possessed unless you count the brief whiff of Peter Forsberg.

But what about Columbus’ perspective? Does turning Nashville into a Stanley Cup contender imply the Blue Jackets lost the deal?

Not necessarily. While it’s true Johansen’s departure leaves a gaping hole in the Jackets’ depth chart, Jones becomes a new franchise pillar who could have a larger long-term impact than Johansen.

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Blue Jackets send Ryan Johansen to Predators for Seth Jones in blockbuster deal

Ian Denomme
Ryan Johansen. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL trading frenzy usually reserved for trade deadline day appears to have come early in 2016.

Just hours after a minor deal that sent Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn from the Flyers to the Kings, the Blue Jackets and Predators upped the ante.

Columbus sent center Ryan Johansen to Nashville for defenseman Seth Jones in a rare, one-for-one blockbuster deal of two burgeoning stars.

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Kings acquire Vincent Lecavalier, Luke Schenn from Flyers for Jordan Weal, third-round pick

Jared Clinton
Vincent Lecavalier (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Vincent Lecavalier is going to get one last shot at chasing a Stanley Cup. The Los Angeles Kings announced Wednesday they have acquired Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for center Jordan Weal and a third-round pick in the 2016 draft.

Lecavalier, 35, had a trying tenure as a Philadelphia Flyer. Following a buyout by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2013, Lecavalier signed a five-year, $22.5-million deal with Philadelphia, but hasn’t been able to find a fit on the roster. In his first season with the club, Lecavalier had a decent season and was able to rack up 20 goals and 37 points in 69 games, but he slipped to eight goals and 20 points in 2014-15 while being forced to sit out more than a handful of games as a healthy scratch.

Things haven’t been much better for Lecavalier this season. He was scratched for the first eight games of the season and has been a healthy scratch 20 times this season. Lecavalier has also been out the past 11 games with a back injury. All told, the one-time 50-goal man has played just seven games this season and has one assist. Read more

These five teams should pursue a Jonathan Drouin trade

Matt Larkin
Jonathan Drouin (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2015-16 NHL season has taught us smoke rarely yields fire in the trade rumor mill, at least so far. Plenty of names have been tossed out as highly likely candidates to be dealt, from Ryan Johansen to Matt Duchene, and nothing has happened. Heck, Travis Hamonic requested a trade from the New York Islanders to help him with a personal family matter, and even he hasn’t changed addresses almost two months later. The Johnny Boychuk injury makes a deal next to impossible now, too.

So just because Jonathan Drouin, via agent Allan Walsh, formally requested a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning doesn’t guarantee Drouin will be moved. General manager Steve Yzerman has made it clear he’ll do what’s best for his team before he’ll do what’s best for Drouin, so it’s possible Tampa searches for a way to mend fences and retain the youngster. That said, Drouin should attract a ton of interest on the trade front. He’s only 20. He carries the type of raw talent expected of a player taken third overall in the 2013 draft. Whether his early-career struggles are the result of injury, poor play on his part or not getting a proper opportunity on a stacked team, he has plenty of time to make good on his potential. He has another year left on his deal at an $894,166 cap hit, albeit with performance bonuses worth up to $2.3 million.

Bottom line: Drouin is affordable for virtually any team at the moment, as he’s not a restricted free agent until summer 2017, and he’s young enough to appeal to rebuilding teams and buying teams alike. He carries risk in that he still has a high enough ceiling to command a significant return, but we can expect a ton of interest in him.

Who, then, is the ideal fit for a Drouin acquisition? Consider these five candidates.

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Year in review: The Top 10 stories of 2015

Patrick Kane.

Year in review: The Top 10 stories of 2015

The 2015 calendar year was a unique one. By some accounts it was quiet, given there were no major events, like the Olympics in 2014 and World Cup to come in 2015. But both on and off the ice 2015 had several memorable moments and storylines.

Here is the top 10:

10. Anaheim Ducks struggle

Back in May the Ducks looked primed for another Stanley Cup. They tore through the first two rounds of the playoffs, sweeping the Winnipeg Jets and needing just five games to beat the Calgary Flames. They also led the Western final against the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. But the Blackhwaks, of course, rallied to win games five and six and went on to win the Cup.

Despite the Game 7 loss, the Ducks appeared to be a team on the rise. They were a popular pick to win the Cup in 2016 (including by The Hockey News). But the second half of 2015 has been a nightmare. The Ducks have scored by far the fewest goals in the NHL to begin the 2015-16 season, and sit last in the poor Pacific Division, and second last overall.

As 2015 comes to a close you have to wonder which Ducks team shows up in 2016.

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Canadiens trade Zack Kassian to Oilers for Ben Scrivens

Jared Clinton
Montreal's Zack Kassian (Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the trade freeze officially lifted Monday morning, the Montreal Canadiens have made a move to offload winger Zack Kassian, who was acquired in the off-season but didn’t play a single game with the organization, to the Edmonton Oilers for goaltender Ben Scrivens.

Kassian, 24, was only recently reinstated by the NHL following a stint in the NHL and NHLPA’s joint substance abuse program. In October, before the season began, Kassian was involved in a car accident in the early hours of Oct. 4. He suffered a broken foot and broken nose, and police said alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

Per the league, Kassian is still involved in the substance abuse program. In a release upon reinstatement, the league said Kassian “has entered the follow-up care phase of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program” and that his care “continues to be administered pursuant to the NHL/NHLPA SABH Program.” Read more

No-movement clauses have made NHL’s trade market boring and predicatable

Mike Brophy
Phil Kessel (Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

The hockey world – with the exception of those fans in Tampa Bay, I am certain – is downright giddy at the prospect of Steven Stamkos hitting unrestricted free agency next summer.

The last time a player of Stamkos’s stature was available was the summer of 2010 when Ilya Kovalchuk was a UFA after being traded from Atlanta to the New Jersey during the season. Kovalchuk signed a massive deal with Devils, caused more harm than good and abruptly left the organization to play in the KHL.

The Stamkos situation got me to thinking about how much fun it is to contemplate the notion of big-name players changing teams. And that led me to thinking about hockey’s trade market.

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Five perfect landing spots for a Ryan Johansen trade

Ryan Johansen (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The time for downplaying Ryan Johansen trade rumors in Columbus is over. Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella all but cemented that by making his supposed star center a healthy scratch for Thursday night’s game in Arizona. Aaron Portzline, team beat writer and THN correspondent, confirmed the decision.

We can believe Tortorella’s claims that Johansen is “an important guy to our organization” and that Johansen will be shown video to illustrate what the team wants from him. Or we can believe that GM Jarmo Kekalainen, who openly supported the scratching, will start making trade calls on Johansen instead of just taking calls, which he was already reportedly doing.

Which teams are ideal fits for Johansen based on what they need and what they can offer the Jackets? Consider these five destinations:

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