The Nashville Predators could look at Ryan’s younger brother Lucas be the next Johansen to play in Nashville.
It’s no secret that the Nashville Predators have some work to do at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to restock the talent farm with young defenders after some recent departures, and Lucas Johansen is a likely target to address Nashville’s future needs on the blueline.
Lucas Johansen Profile
Junior Team: Kelowna Rockets/WHL
Five years Ryan’s junior, the younger Johansen made a name for himself as one of the premier defenders in this year’s draft class after showing vast improvement while playing with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. Having won the Memorial Cup as a rookie on a stacked Kelowna team, Johansen had a respectable debut year as a competent defenseman even if his offensive numbers left something to be desired.
Johansen’s performance in his second year with the Rockets would quiet any doubts that there may have been about his offensive instincts as he shattered his numbers from the previous season and kept going. While Kelowna fell short of returning to the Memorial Cup Tournament, Johansen and the rest of Rockets still managed a strong playoff run to the conference finals before finally being eliminated. Johansen would finish the playoffs with a respectable 8 points (2g,6a) in 18 games.
Before his second season began with Kelowna, many mock drafts had Johansen being taken somewhere in the middle of the second round but has since seen his stock rise with the Rockets’ success again this season and now figures to be an early pick in the second round or even a very late first round pick.
NHL Ranking – North American Skaters: 26th Overall & 9th among Defensemen
Unfortunately for the Predators, Johansen’s climb up the prospects chart has pushed himself into the no mans land between Nashville’s first pick at 17th overall and their second pick at 47th overall. That means if GM David Poile and his scouting staff are sold on drafting Johasen then they’ll likely have to make a move or two to do so.
Warning: Irresponsible Speculation Alert!
Everything and anything can happen on draft day, like David Poile shipping out Patric Hornqvist to the Pittsburgh Penguins for James Neal at the 2014 Entry Draft for example, and with that in mind here’s an idea or two about some moves that might be made at the draft table to bring another Johansen into the fold.
Nashville Trades Colin Wilson for a Late 1st/Early 2nd Pick
Colin Wilson’s regular season inconsistencies are well known in Nashville and may cause Predators management to actively shop the frustrating forward on draft day for a solid pick while his value is still high after a dominating playoff performance.
With a sizable cap hit of almost $4million, Wilson won’t likely be going to a contending team unless Nashville agrees to eat a sizable amount of salary in the trade but that doesn’t mean a rebuilding team wouldn’t want to take on his contract and hope a change of scenery will help the perplexing power forward with his consistency issues.
Nashville Trades Down For 2 Lower Picks In The 1st & 2nd Round
Two is better than one right? While it would be hard to imagine the Predators passing on the 17th overall pick this year, teams have been known to move picks around if a player they have their eye on gets selected before they have a chance to do so themselves and that could be the case at this year’s draft.
Florida, Edmonton, Toronto, Arizona, and Winnipeg all have extra picks late in the first round this year in addition to their early options in the second round and could be the perfect trade partner for the Predators if Poile isn’t sold on the players that fall to him at 17th overall, as unlikely as that is.
Maybe you’re wondering why I’m so sold on Lucas Johansen? To me, in theory, it’s a match made in heaven.
Nashville’s Top 4 of defenders is set for the foreseeable future unless we lose a player to the expansion draft, which is a very real possibility now that Las Vegas is for sure getting an NHL team. That being said the Predators still have to think long term and prepare for a future without Shea Weber patrolling the blue line one day and that begins with players like Lucas Johansen.
The Predators already have a solid history of drafting future NHL players from the Rockets, affectionately known as the “Kelowna Connection,” as Shea Weber, Colton Sissons, and Justin Kirkland are all former players who spent their junior careers with the Rockets.
Also of note, Kelowna has done an excellent job of preparing young defensemen for life in the NHL with such notables as Tyler Myers, Tyson Barrie, Alexander Edler, and Duncan Keith all spending their junior careers with the team.
Add in the “family factor” and it’s easy to see that, if all goes well, Nashville could become the home of the Johansen brothers for years to come. With only one weekend left before the draft, it won’t be long before we know who the Predators will be welcoming to the franchise.
Lucas Johansen Video Highlights
It would be a great story if it could somehow happen. It might even help in salary negotiations next season for Ryan Johansen. We will see if it comes to pass.
Check out our other Prospect Reports:
Keep an eye out for more Draft Prospect reports on the Nashville Predators. They could look at any position, but we feel that a forward is the best bet.
This draft could be an interesting one as there looks to be a lot of moves leading up to it with Free Agency and Expansion Draft on the horizon.