Who Is Left? Top Free Agent Options: Ryan Johansen


Predators training camp is set to begin soon, and the Predators roster will start to take shape. But, that doesn’t mean  offseason business is over. There are still many free agents (restricted or unrestricted) that are still out there for the Predators to grab. Defenseman Ryan Ellis has yet to be re-signed (but that’s a whole other story). It may be in general manager David Poile’s best interest to not pursue anyone new, as Peter Laviolette should try to work out his new system with the players he already has. But, should he want to add some more new faces, there are a few good options out there.

The first installment of this series features Ryan Johansen, the 22-year-old center for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is currently a restricted free agent, and all indications are that negotiations with Columbus are stalling. Reports indicate that the two sides have agreed on a two-year term, but are far apart on the money. Johansen is asking for $7 million per year, while the Jackets are offering him $4 million per year.

There are many things that make Johansen an attractive option for the Predators. He notched 63 points in 82

Ryan Johansen has tremendous offensive upside. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

games last season, including 33 goals. This was a serious jump from the previous lockout-shortened season, in which he only played 40 games and scored five goals.

From an analytical perspective, Johansen is a solid player. He was second on the Jackets in points per game last season (Nick Foglino was first). When it comes to Corsi and Fenwick, the proxies used for possession and shot statistics, Johansen led the Jackets in both total season individual Corsi and Fenwick. However, Johansen finished fourth in Corsi per game and third in Fenwick per game.

When looking at advanced stats, the other concern is with Johansen’s opponents. How have opposing players performed while Johansen is on the ice? Johansen’s Corsi per 2o minutes is 18.027. Johansen’s opponents have a 17.664 Corsi while he is on the ice. So, in basic terms, Johansen outposesses and outshoots his opponents while he is on the ice. It’s somewhat negligible, but still important.

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Another great sign of Johansen’s success is his Corsi rating during close games. His Corsi per 20 minutes jumps to 19.148 when a game is close (tied or within one goal). So, to some extent, Johansen is even better in clutch situations. For what the Predators would want out of Johansen, these are great possession stats.

Columbus was only a decent possession team last season, finishing 17th in Corsi For percentage with a below-50% rating. That means they were slightly outposessed and outshot. Johansen was able to reverse that, and put up plus-.500 CF%.

Johansen is a decent possession player and potential goal scorer. However, there are a few drawbacks. First,

Is Ryan Johansen worth the money? Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

the price tag. He’s asking for $7 million per year. Is he worth that much money? He would most likely slip into a second line, maybe even third line role for the first season. He’d certainly cement a top-six role in the future, but with veterans like Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, and Mike Fisher (for however long) on the roster this season, it would be hard for Johansen to step into the top six.

Also, his production is untested. His 2013-14 season was very impressive, but it was his first full 82-game season. Can Ryan Johansen put up similar numbers again? He is only 22 years old, and he has a lot of time to keep getting better. But, until he proves he can duplicate his numbers from last season, he’ll still have a lot of question marks.

Overall, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to Ryan Johansen. A two-year, $7 million AAV deal is within the Nashville budget, and Johansen would provide a solid, young solution down the middle. If negotiations with Columbus keep going stale, maybe Poile should bid for his services.