Crazy Day of Poker: NHL Trades

Ryan Johansen Blue Jackets

So, Wednesday was a day for the NHL, eh? Mike Richards, exiled from LA Kings and the NHL all together signs with the Washington Capitals. Vinny Lecavalier and Luke Schenn head from Philly to LA for a prospect and a pick. Montreal sends Dustin Tokarski to Anaheim (which I think is the precursor to another Anaheim trade). And the big one: Columbus traded Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators for Seth Jones.

What I don’t want to do is discuss who won these trades/signings because really the only one worth discussing in that matter is the Johansen for Jones trade, and you’re not going to know who won that trade until four years from now, so saying who won is basically saying which player you like best, and I like them both, so…tie.

What I think is most interesting about these deals are the headspaces of the people involved. So, with that in mind, let’s comment on the deals real quick.

Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen

I think most people will first focus on how excited Johansen must be to go from an out-of-the-playoffs Blue Jackets to the Cup contending Predators, but people should also note how much pressure is now on Johansen.

It’s great to be traded to a team that has a legit chance to win the Stanley Cup, but man, you and your agent basically said that the reason you were underperforming in Columbus was because of your bad situation; you better perform now, bud.

NHL GMs are more than willing to accept the needs-new-scenery narrative that a lot of young players go by, which is fine. It’s an honest reality. But, you underachieve in a bad situation? Forgivable. You underachieve with a fresh start? You got problems, bub.

The real work starts now for Ryan Johansen. If you’re out of shape; if your old Coach hates you; whatever. You better perform now. You can’t underachieve for two different teams and blame anybody but yourself.

This is a classic case of the grass being greener on the other side. You know who makes the grass greener on the other side? You do. You can’t just go over to that new lawn and watch it grow. You have to work at it. And Ryan Johansen has some work to do, especially if he’s going to be the number one center on a Stanley Cup winning team.

Best part is? If he had issues with Tortorella’s coaching style, it’s not like Peter Laviolette’s waiting for Johansen with a milkshake and a hug. Laviolette is still a hard coach. He doesn’t put up with any crap. Laviolette might not be as, let’s say, archaic, as Tortorella, but it’s not all sunshine and roses over with the Westfield State Hall-of-Famer (go Owls!).  He’s going to lean on Johansen, and Johansen better respond properly or he’s going to find himself in another “bad” situation.

As for Seth Jones? Wow. You just went from a Stanley Cup contender to a team near the bottom of the league’s standings. Sucks, right?

Well, yes and no. Jones was, at best, the 3rd best defenseman on Nashville. Probably 4th (they’re blueline is stacked!). And while it’s amazing to be in the Stanley Cup hunt, there’s also something to be said about being the best player on your team. And Jones has a legit chance to be that on Columbus.

And don’t kid yourself. All hockey players like to be the best. We all want to win, and a lot (but not all) are willing to sacrifice being the best for a chance to win; but it’s still nice to be the best. Jones is going to get a lot of minutes, he’s going to be put in every situation, and if he performs, he’s going to get a nice pay raise from the Blue Jackets when the time comes. I’m sure he’s a little disappointed he’s not going to be involved in the Predators Playoff run, but I bet you he’s plenty excited about his new opportunity leading the blueline in Columbus.

Tokarski to the Ducks

Plain and simple, I think this spells the end of Frederick Anderson in Anaheim. John Gibson is a stud and has been playing like a stud, so I think Anaheim will seize this opportunity to move Anderson for some pieces and clear up the crease to make it solely Gibson’s net.

Tokarski is pumped because he was leap frogged in Montreal’s system and this will give him a chance to be back in the NHL; Anderson’s excitement will be based on whether or not he gets traded to a team to be the starter or the back-up; and if Gibson is reading the tea leaves like me, he’s the most excited of them all. I honestly have no clue why the Ducks haven’t made him the sole starter this whole time. Have I mentioned he’s a stud?

Mike Richards and Vinny Lecavalier

No, not involved in the same deal, but my thoughts on this are the same (and this isn’t getting into their head space, it’s my head space).

Now, first, I want to say that you can’t tell me that Lecavalier can’t play in the NHL. You can’t. You can tell me that his contract no longer matches his skill set, but you can’t tell me he can’t play in the NHL. So when I make these comments, it’s not so much what I think as it is what actual NHL GMs think. Which is BOTH THESE GUYS CAN’T PLAY IN THE NHL ANYMORE.

Mike Richards was told by LA’s GM to beat it and Lecavalier was told by Tampa and Philly to scram, yet teams are still worth paying them all this money?

Like, Mike Richards is still worth a million bucks? Seriously? I know it’s prorated, but in essence, in spirit, the Capitals have decided he’s worth a million dollars.



You couldn’t sign this dude for a couple grand? Anything less than a million?

That’s what I don’t get. One NHL GM says to a player, “Nope, you can’t play anymore,” and some other GM says to the first GM, “No, sir, you are wrong. This guy is still worth A MILLION DOLLARS.”

And I guess this speaks more to when Lecavalier was first signed by Philly; not the recent trade. Tampa Bay said he couldn’t play anymore, so the Flyers lined up at his hotel door with a contract. It’s just crazy how so many GMs are willing to bet that another GM is dead wrong about a player. I mean, I can sit here and say NHL GMs are wrong all I want, but I’m not in the brethren. You’d think NHL GMs would hold other GMs’ thoughts in higher regard.

But I guess that’s all part of the competitiveness. If one says “it can’t be done” than another one says “oh yes it can.”

Who am I kidding? I would be trying to make them players again too.


What do you think?