Friedman talks Ryan Johansen, Eric Staal, Steven Stamkos

NHL insider Elliotte Friedman discusses how John Tortorella and Peter Chiarelli inspired the coach compensation rule change, and why there’s still too many looming questions affecting possible expansion.

Sportsnet hockey insider Elliotte Friedman was on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer at 630 CHED Friday, where he discussed the trade rumours surrounding several of the game’s biggest stars.

One name that could very well be on the move at some point this season is Columbus Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen.

The 23-year-old already has a 30-goal season under his belt, but hasn’t always seemed happy in Columbus.

He missed a good chunk of training camp in 2014 when he and the club could not reach an agreement on a contract, and Johansen has already spent some time in head coach John Tortorella’s doghouse in the short while he’s been there.

Friedman thinks it’s still possible the two work it out however.

“No. 1 centres are hard to find, and Vincent Lecavalier and John Tortorella drove each other crazy for a while, but then they won a Stanley Cup together,” said Friedman. “I still believe that some of what this is, is Columbus saying to John Tortorella, ‘Go after him and find out what we really got. Go hard at him and we’ll see what comes out of this.’

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a team like Nashville or a team like St. Louis is sitting there and saying, ‘If they’re going to trade him, we gotta make sure we’re ready to have something to offer.’ I’m sure Vancouver would like to get in on that. He’s from there. I don’t know if they have what they need, but Nashville sure would if they wanted to do that.”

Johansen has one year after this one left on his contract before he becomes a restricted free agent. After that he will enter his unrestricted years, meaning a big contract is looming.

Still, Friedman thinks the Blue Jackets could be hesitant to move the young player.

“I look at this and say, boy, if you’re making that trade, you’re making that trade with the understanding that you’re trading the best player and you’re going to be made to look bad potentially.”

Other players discussed were:

Eric Staal

“I don’t think they’ve gone to Eric Staal yet and said ‘Where are you willing to go?’ And because he has a no movement clause, and the other thing about Eric Staal is, he still carries a cap number of $8.25-million and he’s getting paid I think $9.25-million, so those are not easy numbers to handle this early in the season.

“I think at the end of the day he’s going to get traded. That’s my prediction … and I think that’s the best thing for Eric Staal, is to get traded and maybe give himself a bit of a boost. Nick Kypreos would love to see Montreal get in on that, I could see Nashville getting in on that. I think there will be interest, but I just don’t think it’s ready to happen yet.

Steven Stamkos

“I gotta think at some point Steve Yzerman’s got to sit down with him or the agents and say, ‘Are you staying or no? And if the answer is no can you give us a list?’

“I just think also you reach a point where it suddenly becomes too much. I really don’t think that this has been a huge distraction for them, but I could see where it gets there. They’re coming into Toronto next week, and I can see where it gets there.

“This one thing that kind of makes me a little nervous about all this for Tampa and that is that Tyler Johnson keeps getting hurt. He didn’t practice today, it was a maintenance day, The Triplets played together last night as they beat Ottawa, I wonder if Tampa looks at this and says, ‘This guy can’t stay healthy, he’s a smaller guy are we going to have a problem here?’

“But I do think at some point you just have to go and say, ‘Guys, what are we doing here?’

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