Written by Sean Gentile, Sheena Goldman and Eric Dhacek
Get an avalanche: Ryan Johansen (Nashville owns 50%, annual median net worth of $8 million).
Predators get: Alex Galichnyuk
Kindly: At some point, the Avalanche had to replace Nazim Qadri. Ideally, this would have happened last season. It didn’t, and the problem was compounded by the poor unrestricted free agent class this summer. Ironically, JT Compher, Kadri’s former replacement, may be the best open option on the market for teams looking for position options. He wasn’t bad for Avs – he still looks great as a 3C for the team behind Nathan MacKinnon and Johansen – but even with a career year he wasn’t good enough to be a front-runner in 2C. General manager Chris McFarland’s crisis was evident.
So is the hard work that went into this step. Johansen, despite turning 31 this summer and failing to continue the 2021-22 rebounding season, is still better on paper than any UFA 2C option. Retaining the salary, which lowers his cost to Avs to $4 million in the next two seasons, makes him a no-brainer.
Now, is Johansson perfect? not exactly. Those 26 goals in 2021-22 may have been a blow to his five-year slump, and the idea of signing him for $8m was – or should have been – a ban. However, he still has enough size, playing ability, and goals to illustrate his appeal. When respected players like Johansen are overpaid as massively as he was in Nashville, it undercuts his value. In Denver, he won’t overexert himself. The Avalanche has money to spend and urgency to achieve their goals, especially with the impending long absence of Gabriel Landeskoog. It’s very simple.
At the end of the race, if this move was the only alternative to buying Johansen, it was also a victory for them. Based on the yield – Galchenyuk’s trading rights – this is a fair assumption. Now their contract expires in two years (and he’s paying $8 million) instead of four years and about $10 million. Les accords in his lesquels une équipe doit manger de l’argent et ne rien obtenir en retour sont rarement saves by the base of fans, what les fans of breeds doevent être convaincus that le directeur general Barry Trotz semble pret à faire passer the franchise à sa The next phase. Considering how many players love to play in Nashville, any cap space is valuable.
Avalanche degree: a
Predator class: b +
Dahshek: There are a few key facts about the Johansen-for-Galchenyuk deal that landed him a week-long NHL game starting Saturday morning, starting with the fact that Johansen was completely untradeable at $8 million this season. The fact that the Predators had to absorb half of the contract for the remaining two seasons speaks to Johansen’s low value in the NHL. At $4 million a season, on the other hand, Johansen represents a defensible threat for the Avalanche for the next couple of years.
But still: risk.
Until training camp begins, the season begins and Johansen has a chance to settle down, the Avalanche won’t know which version of him to take. Because there are so many variables, starting with his early career stint at Columbus, after he was the 4th pick in the 2010 draft. He became, if not true number, then at least number 2. The Predators gave enough thought midway through the 2015-16 season to trade a promising young player. Seth Jones to get it.
Johansen’s results in Nashville were decidedly mixed. His 50th nursing season in 2019 was the best. There was another disappointing two-year slump the next two years, followed by a short 63-point rebound in 2021-22. Then he fell again in 2022-23, with 28 points in 55 games, another season in which he was unable to stay healthy.
At 30, he has become an integral part and not a player who can play alone. Colorado clearly believes it could be more than that. One of the Avalanche’s biggest failures last season was the ice production center behind McKinnon, and no one has been pushed to fill the void created by Kadri’s departure to Calgary.
Can Johansson do that?
He’s a better playmaker than scorer, and if the Avalanche continues to take on McKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, Johansen could theoretically get a chance to play with one of the most productive scorers in the NHL – last season’s 55th leading scorer.
But he would have to be a better, healthier, more committed version of the player Nashville saw fit to trade for 50 cents on the dollar.
And although this is presented as an exchange for Galchenyuk, it is a smokescreen. Galchenyuk, 29, has an expired contract with a league minimum of $750,000. It’s UFA on the 1st of July. It’s hard to imagine what attention he’ll get after the year he got in: zero points in 11 NHL games and 42 points in 42 AHL games. Perhaps Anaheim would take a chance, because their minor league coach, Greg Cronin, now their head coach, would take a chance.
If that also means the end of Compher with the Avalanche, then you can make a compelling argument that Johansen is a demotion, not a promotion.
Comfer had 52 points in 82 games last season and averaged 20:32 in ice time. To put Compher’s use in context, he ranked 14th in time on the ice among forwards, ahead of — among others — Auston Matthews, Matthew Tkachuk, and Kyle Connor, as well as Avalanche teammates Arturi Likonen and Val Nikochkin. In short, he was a quiet but important shareholder in Avs and would be hard to replace if he sold the market.
Compher is UFA suspended in a thin culture of UFA centers. Meanwhile, in Nashville, Johansen averaged 15:46, which isn’t the kind of ice time you associate with the top six forwards.
Sometimes, however, the weight of the contract affects the confidence of the player. Johansen would never have justified his $8 million annual salary at this point in his career. At $4 million, that’s a fairer price.
This may allow him to play more freely and, if so, get his game back on track. For a long time he looked like a player who needed a fresh start. He is only 30 years old. There is plenty of time.
Avalanche degree: against
Predator class: against
Goldman: Colorado has needed help in the midfield since Qadri’s departure as a free agent last summer. Last year’s plan seemed to be to see how the six premium suites could balance a cheaper option in the middle of the line. Landeskog’s season-long injury, which would also rule him out for the next season, derailed that experience.
So this is something the Avalanche has had to deal with in the offseason, especially with Compher’s contract expiring in a few days. Colorado still has Alex Newhawk (who will also get a raise this summer, but as a restricted free agent), but they still need six more players at midfield. This is where Johansson comes in.
There is no doubt that Johansen has been heading in the wrong direction for some time, and his rebound in 2021-22 looks more than an encouraging sign for the future. His lackluster 2022-23 season cannot be entirely attributed to roster issues around him or coaching; It is on it too. A team with star power like Colorado and a really smart coach in Jared Bednar might be able to maximize the rest of the game a little better. Betting $4 million isn’t much of a risk either – a manageable cost on the third line if he can’t offload it as a 2C . Considering this year’s free agent class and other trade options likely cost more than Galchenyuk’s rights, which are literally nothing, it’s a good move.
On the other hand, predators bought themselves some space and flexibility. That rules out another two-year retention period, dropping Nashville to one year, but that should be fine for Trotz, considering who stays on the roster and is likely to be dropped. Should Nashville make this deal? If the plan was to rebuild for the long haul, it wasn’t really necessary since the Predators could have dealt with having Johansen on the roster. But if they want to have a chance to compete when the top three – Roman Jose, Jos Sarros and Philipp Forsberg – are in their prime years, the process has to be faster. Thus, cap space is essential, and knowing who will be in the future as early as possible will obviously help with the roster building process.
Avalanche degree: b +
Predator class: B
(Photo by Ryan Johansen and JT Comper: Christopher Hanwinkel/USA Today)