Blue Jackets trade Ryan Johansen to Predators for Seth Jones

In the biggest trade of the NHL season to date, the Columbus Blue Jackets have traded away former No. 4 overall pick Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators for another former No. 4 overall pick, defenseman Seth Jones.

Johansen, who had 59 goals over the previous two seasons combined and just six so far this year, had been falling out of favor in the Columbus organization and appeared to be an ill fit for new head coach John Tortorella. He was recently even made a healthy scratch. Additionally, the team had a severe deficiency on defense.

Jones, who Preds GM David Poile giddily selected fourth overall in 2013, was the No. 3 defenseman on the Predators, averaging nearly 20 minutes a night. He has 11 points in 40 games so far this season and boasts strong underlying numbers for a 21-year-old blueliner.

Both players have been prized by their organizations, but the Preds are dealing from a position of strength to acquire a player who could immediately make their anemic forward group better. Defensemen Shea Weber and Roman Josi currently lead the team in scoring.

Johansen has 26 points so far this season, on pace to fall well short of his production over the last two years, but it’s been a bad year overall in Columbus. By going to the Predators, especially with a strong defensive group, should help him out.

Jones, meanwhile, instantly becomes a top pairing defenseman for the Blue Jackets. He could also be the cornerstone for a team that needed him far more than the Predators did with Weber and Josi on the top pairing. That’s not to say the Predators aren’t taking a risk here, because they are.

One of the areas that has made Nashville so successful is their defensive group. They’ve just taken a major piece out of it. Not only that, but Weber’s play has been in decline. It’s not dramatic, but it’s indicative of his getting older. Jones and Josi could have anchored that blue line long after Weber’s best days were behind him.

Still, the chance to inject a 6-foot-3, 218-pound forward with a 30-goal season already under his belt had to be intriguing for Poile. It couldn’t have been easy for him to part with Jones, who had become such a huge part of the team.

Johansen has one year remaining on his salary after this season at a cap hit of $4 million. He is owed $6 million in actual salary next year. Jones, meanwhile is on the last year of his entry-level contract and if the Jackets are smart, they’ll lock him up long-term even though he’ll be a restricted free agent.

Johansen has 193 points in 309 games, while Jones has 63 points in 199 NHL contests.

Both teams should get better from this, but it will be interesting to watch the trajectory of these two players over the coming years in their new surroundings.

Seth Jones and Ryan Johansen were dealt in a swap of former No. 4 picks. (USATSI)
Seth Jones and Ryan Johansen were dealt in a swap of former No. 4 picks. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

Chris Peters has been a hockey writer for CBS Sports since 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for numerous outlets and edited the United States of Hockey blog, covering the sport at all levels. Peters also... Full Bio

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