On January 14th, 2018, a generally unexpected notification was sent to the phones of hockey fans everywhere. Jack Johnson had requested a trade. For many of those fans, this news was met with immediate confusion. Who exactly is Jack Johnson? What teams would want him? Would he actually get dealt somewhere? Let’s take a look at what Johnson has accomplished so far, his recent performance, and how realistic (and exciting) a trade involving him could be.
Jack Johnson, now 31-years-old, has been active in professional hockey since the 2002-2003 season. After a few years with U17, U18 and U20 teams, he first settled in with a consistent team in the 2005-2006 season. He played two seasons with the University of Michigan of the NCAA. In a total of two seasons there, he recorded 71 points (26 goals and 45 assists) in 74 games. In March 2007, he signed an Entry Level Contract with the Los Angeles Kings. He played five games with them in the 2006-2007 season. He failed to put up a point in this short period of time, but he did put up 18 penalty minutes. The next season, he notched 11 points (three goals and eight assists) in 74 games. In the following year, the defenseman notched the same number of points in 33 fewer games, a campaign shortened by injury. His play improved in the seasons after, with 36 points (eight goals and 28 assists) in 80 games in 2009-2010 and 42 points (five goals and 37 assists) in 2010-2011. 61 games into the 2011-2012 season, he (along with the 2013 first round pick that would ultimately become Marko Dano) was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jeff Carter. So far in that season, he had eight goals and 16 assists for 24 points.
Once he made the move, the blue-liner showed no signs of slowing down. In the remaining 21 games of his campaign, Johnson scored four goals and 10 assists for 14 points altogether. Once the 2011-2012 season began, the Blue Jackets had given him the role of alternate captain, and he was contributing positively to the team on a regular basis. Though it was shortened by a lockout, Johnson still made a splash, recording five goals and 14 assists for 19 points in just 44 games. The next two seasons were great for him, with 33 (five goals and 28 assists in 82 games) and 40 points (eight goals and 32 assists in 79 games) in the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons, respectively. He slumped a little in the two years following those, with 14 points (six goals and eight assists in 60 games) in 2015-2016, and 23 points (five goals and 18 assists in 82 games) last year (2016-2017). So far this season, Johnson has had an unusually low campaign with seven points (two goals and five assists) in 46 games. It was starting to look like something had to change.
On January 14th, 2018, last Sunday, Jack Johnson requested a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Actually, according to the sources that broke the news, he had requested a trade months ago, and this was just the announcement. This makes some sense, though it seems confusing and out of the blue on the surface. Johnson could be trying to put himself in a better position for free agency this summer. He also may have recognized that his production has slowed down and younger defensemen like Seth Jones and Zach Werenski are coming into their own, which could result in a diminished role (like being stripped of his “A”). It seems like Johnson is trying to leave before he gets left, in a sense. If both sides are indeed ready to move on, a trade as soon as possible seems most beneficial. Columbus would be able to see what they could get for him, and near the trade deadline, no less. If the blue-liner does get dealt, he could try to salvage his season, and, depending on the team he would be going to, make a trip to the playoffs like the Jackets probably will be. If a trade doesn’t work, Johnson could finish the season out in Columbus and freely explore his options over the summer.
However, something seems very symbolic about this insignificant-seeming piece of news. “Silly season” is coming, hockey fans. Staying up late and refreshing Twitter, waiting for Bob McKenzie to drop the next big rumors, and playing armchair GM a little bit more. As Steve “Dangle” Glynn says, it’s “Badvent”; the time leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline, which is on February 26th this year. May all of your teams make it out alive!
Do you think your team could use Jack Johnson? Do you think he will stay in Columbus, get traded, or ultimately become a free agent and wind up somewhere totally different? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so tweet us @PuckItUpBlog!
Want a refresher on last year’s trade deadline in preparation for next month? Click here.