The Summer of 2018 hasn’t seen the Nashville Predators get a lot of respect. The most disrespected? Ryan Johansen.
I think we all agree that the Summer of 2017 was very enjoyable for the Nashville Predators and their fans. Smashville was basking in the afterglow of a tremendously fun playoff run from the Predators. Nobody saw it coming. Expectations were blown out of the water.
More from Editorials
- Captain Candidates if Nashville Predators Didn’t Have Roman Josi
- How the Nashville Predators Have Trended over Past Five Years
- Three Reasons Nashville Predators can Shock the World in 2023-24
- Three Different Outcomes for Juuse Saros’ Future with Nashville Predators
- Top-5 Nashville Predators Home Games to Attend for Upcoming Season
Ryan Johansen‘s summer wasn’t perfect. He had to rehab a thigh injury that forced him to miss the Stanley Cup Final. Other than that, he couldn’t have had many complaints. The Predators signed him to an eight-year contract worth $64,000,000. He was named one of the assistant captains for the team, reinforcing his leadership. It was one of those summers that people write pop hits about.
This summer hasn’t gone as well in Nashville. The biggest off-ice news has surrounded Austin Watson and his domestic violence issues. There weren’t any big free agent signings to please the fanbase. No crazy trades to shake things up. Much to the chagrin of most of us, Ryan Ellis hasn’t extended his contract. Aside from Juuse Saros getting a contract at a pretty low rate and P.K. Subban getting some press alongside Lindsey Vonn, there hasn’t been much to talk about.
Finally, some fun drama!
One of the drawbacks of writing about the NHL compared to other leagues is that there isn’t as much drama. It isn’t like the NBA, where all the players are constantly throwing shade at each other on social media or even getting into “fights” at parties. The players, by and large, keep their heads down and keep their issues out of the public eye. Every once in a while you’ll have some WAG drama, but the players themselves keep things quiet. It makes things pretty boring from July until October.
It goes to show how deep the dislike runs that Johansen actually responded.
Kesler is out indefinitely after having hip surgery, so needling Johansen is a good way for him to stay in the public eye. Some have speculated that he’s using Johansen as motivation to get back on the ice quicker than expected. We might hate Ryan Kesler for his style of play and being annoying in general, but we could really use more people like him to keep things interesting.
Not only did Johansen get some guff from Kesler, but NHL Network decided to pile on. The off-season is always a great time to make lists, and NHL Network is listing their top twenty at various positions. They presented their list of centers on Monday, and there was a severe lack of Nashville Predators.
Back when David Poile traded Seth Jones to the Columbus Blue Jackets to acquire Johansen, we all celebrated the fact that Nashville finally had a top-line center. If you ask most Predator fans, they’d be pleased with Johansen’s performance. I am. When I saw this list, I assumed that Johansen deserved to be on it without question. He centers one of the top-scoring lines in hockey. Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson have both seen their games improve with Johansen between them. Few doubt that the offense would have been more effective during the 2016-17 Cup Final if Johansen was available.
His 2017-18 season didn’t generate many complaints from fans. The JoFA line was as effective as its ever been, powering Nashville to the best regular season record in the NHL. Johansen’s counting stats were a bit down from 2016-17 and he went through a stretch of the season where he didn’t do much, but he stepped things up towards the end of the season and averaged just over a point a game during the playoffs.
The numbers rarely lie
Why is Ryan Johansen being treated like Rodney Dangerfield? There are these pesky things called statistics. They paint a different picture. Johansen ranked 43rd among his fellow centers in points in 2017-18. He was tied for 27th in assists, which should come pretty easy on a line with Forsberg and Arvidsson.
The advanced stats aren’t any kinder. Johansen was the 37th best center according to his Corsica Hockey player rating. Natural Stat Trick has him at 43rd. Considering Johansen is the 14th highest-paid center in hockey, you’d like to see more production from him.
It’s a tough spot to be in. Most of use would agree that we’re fine with Forsberg and Arvidsson collecting the goals. Nashville Predators defensemen are always going to get their points too, it’s the way the team’s always operated. Johansen has the tendency to get lost in the shuffle. Which we could excuse more if we didn’t see the way he steps it up every postseason. We know he’s capable of more than 15 goals a season.
I’m the last person to argue in favor of believing numbers over what you see. But when you break everything down, NHL Network and their experts are right. Ryan Johansen isn’t a top-20 center in the league. There isn’t a metric out there that makes him one. We believe he has the potential to be one. Once he gets there, he’ll get some respect.
Kicking Ryan Kesler’s washed-up behind would also help.