Four possible trade destinations for Blue Jackets’ Ryan Johansen

Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella is very content with the progress his team has made since he came aboard, with a mutual comfortability between he and his players.

Boy, do things change quickly in the NHL.

Ryan Johansen appeared to be on the verge of superstardom the last two years with the Columbus Blue Jackets and now he’s the constant subject of trade speculation.

Talk of Johansen as a possible trade candidate heated up this week when Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella made the 23-year-old forward a healthy scratch on Thursday night and with Columbus sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference, the concept of a splashy trade won’t be going away any time soon.

With that in mind, here are four teams that could be a logical fit for the Blue Jackets forward if general manager Jarmo Kekalainen decides to put Johansen on the block:

Nashville Predators: The Preds have not been a high scoring team historically and the club again could use a boost up front, ranking last in Central Division in goals and among the lowest-scoring teams in the Western Conference. The Predators have over $10 million in cap space, according to the website General Fanager, so they wouldn’t need to move out any expensive salaries to fit in Johansen and could offer the Blue Jackets a quality defenceman in return. GM David Poile has also recently talked about looking for forwards on the trade market. This might be a reach, but there have been a few established hockey writers who have suggested a Johansen for Seth Jones swap. Could it be a match?

New York Islanders: Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after the season so the Islanders make some sense as a team that could be looking at acquiring another quality scorer. They have the salary cap room to add a contract such as Johansen’s and maybe young forward Ryan Strome, who hasn’t maximized his potential with the Islanders (and who they’ve sent to the AHL once this year already), could be of interest to the Blue Jackets. Having Johansen and John Tavares sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?

Philadelphia Flyers: Despite having all-stars Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek up front, the Flyers rank last in the Eastern Conference in scoring. So they could certainly use another high-end talent at forward. The Flyers have some quality youth at the position, but it would be tough to imagine them dealing 23-year-old Sean Couturier. So maybe a package could include pending RFA Brayden Schenn and one of Philadelphia’s defence prospects, or picks. The Flyers have the cap room to make a move and have been tempted by big swings in the past.

Vancouver Canucks: Johansen grew up and played his minor hockey in the Vancouver area and played his major junior in the Pacific Northwest with Portland, so his ties to the area makes him an intriguing fit. The Canucks could use a forward of Johansen’s calibre, especially a young one, but the tough part is finding a match for the Blue Jackets. The Canucks are thin in terms of blueline prospects and given that the team is struggling and the Sedin brothers are getting older it might not be logical for Vancouver to take away from their prospect pool — a pool that still needs plenty of work.

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