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Predators Send Ryan Johansen To Division Rival Colorado

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Ryan Johansen

After eight seasons and 362 points, the Nashville Predators have moved on from center Ryan Johansen.

Dealt for defenseman Seth Jones in 2016, Johansen was shipped to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday for 29-year-old forward Alex Galchenyuk.

The Predators will retain 50 percent of Johansen’s salary ($4 million per season for the next two years). They also owe $250,000 each of the next three seasons to Edmonton in retained salary from the Mattias Ekholm trade and and $2 million each of the next five seasons from the Kyle Turris buyout.

Johansen played in 533 games for the Predators scoring 110 goals and 362 points. He helped lead the Predators to the first-ever Stanley Cup Final in 2017 but didn’t play in the series after suffering an injury during Game 4 of the Western Conference Final.

After he was acquired from the Blue Jackets, outgoing general manager David Poile heralded Johansen as the first true No. 1 center the franchise ever had.

“Ryan is a big, young center that can score, set up goals (and) win faceoffs,” Poile said at the time. “He’s a No. 1 center who is still growing his game and has the size and skill that we have been looking for to match up with the best in the League.”

While it cost him Jones — a defenseman Poile was very fond of and anguished over parting with — he pulled the trigger on adding a dynamic player to his offense. Johansen delivered everything Poile asked for and more.

Now, incoming GM Barry Trotz, who challenged the 30-year-old Johansen to have “his best summer” after the season ended, is beginning his tenure with some fireworks. He shipped Johansen off just four days out from the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville.

More could be on the horizon for Trotz, as he expressed on 102.5 The Game on Friday.

“I’ve been very dillegent on trying to move up to the top four spots,” Trotz said. “I’m not going to deny that. I think that’s an offer in different packages, but I think most of those teams are really set since they don’t want to budge.”

Trotz also said the Predators are not in a place to fully rebuild nor are they in a retool phase either.

As for Johansen, he’s optimistic he’ll be ready for the 2023-24 season. After having surgery on his right leg in February, Johansen believes he’ll be ready to play when October rolls around. During locker clean out day, he told reporters he would be out of his boot and rehabbing for the next season.

With Johansen gone and $4 million freed up in cap space, the Predators can focus on locking up young forwards like Cody Glass and Tommy Novak to long-term deals. Glass finished with a career-high 14 goals and 35 points in 72 games this past season. The 24-year-old will need a new contract before qualifying offers are due on June 30 at 4 p.m.

After being callled up on Dec. 19, Novak scored 43 points in 51 games — leading the Predators in scoring and filling the role Johansen played for much of his career in Nashville.

“I think Tommy is one of those guys that if we all look at him, he doesn’t look like a specimen by any means or a crazy freak athlete,” Johansen said. “He’s probably only had a few people in his career when he’ younger that believe in him and saw something in him.

“When he got his opportunties he’s found a way to be successful. That self belief was fun to watch within him and him being thrown in the fire and the opportunities to impact games to win games for this club and he went out there and did it.”

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Galchenyuk has scored 354 points in 654 NHL contests. He tallied 16 goals and 42 points in 42 AHL games with the Colorado Eagles in 2022. Galchenyuk, a Milwaukee native, could be a depth signing for the Milwaukee Admirals next season or the Predators could let him hit the open market.

Follow Nick Kieser on Twitter: @KieserNick

(Photo of Ryan Johansen by Michael Gallagher/Nashville Hockey Now)