It’s hard to believe that we are already at the midway point of the 2020-21 NHL season. It is time to start handing out our midseason grades for the Nashville Predators. Up next is forward Ryan Johansen.
This season was supposed to be a year of rejuvenation for Johansen, a time to put the tough 2019-20 season behind and play up to the level that he has in the past.
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Like many of his teammates, Johansen struggled last season. From centering the top line with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidson to moving up and down the rest of the offensive lineup, Johansen experienced one of his worst seasons ever.
From Bad To Worse
In interviews throughout last season, Johansen knew that he was not living up to either the team’s or his own expectations on the ice.
When the NHL paused the season due to the pandemic, it became an excellent opportunity for Johansen to reset his game and focus. It appeared that the time off helped him do just that.
During the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, the attention was turned to the reunion of the JoFA line. Even though the Predators’ time in the playoffs came to an early end, it became apparent that the time off did Johansen some good.
Johansen had a goal and four assists in the four playoff games. Things appeared to be looking up.
We have talked incessantly about the Predators’ and Johansen’s struggles this season. Things have gone from bad to worse for him in 2021.
Through the 21 games that he has played, Johansen has only managed 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists). Putting his salary aside, which is a hot-button issue with fans, his production is not quite what you want to see from your top-line center.
While he may not be producing much numbers-wise, Johansen’s Corsi is still fantastic, sitting at 61.7%, proving that the Predators find the net more often when he is on the ice.
Johansen’s Future With the Nashville Predators
The Predators are a team that is in flux and staring directly at a rebuild before the trade deadline and into next season. Many have called for the removal of Johansen via trade. While that probably should happen, it is doubtful that it will.
Johansen will not be a free agent until the 2025-26 season. With his stats being what they are, any trade would be tough to pull off and would more than likely mean that the Predators would have to retain part of his salary.
Another option that has been discussed is to make a deal with the new NHL franchise, the Seattle Kraken. Any agreement with them would also require the Predators to retain a portion of Johansen’s salary, assuming that they would be interested in having him on their team in the first place.
This season, Johansen’s frustrations are on full display. He and his teammates are baffled by their woeful play and unsure what they need to do to right the ship.
The most frustrating part about Johansen is that he has had very successful seasons in the past. For reasons unknown to us and possibly Johansen himself, these past two seasons have been challenging and hard to watch at times.
When the Predators do begin their rebuild, it will be even more critical for Johansen to figure out his issues on the ice. With young players and new faces on the team, The team will need him to step up and provide leadership.
A change of scenery would probably be the best thing for the struggling Johansen. If that winds up not being an option, the Predators will need much more from Johansen than they are currently getting.
Hopefully, the Predators’ upcoming reset will also provide Johansen a chance to reset and refocus as well.