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Fantasy Spin: Johansen back in play for owners

by Matt Cubeta

The Columbus Blue Jackets drafted Ryan Johansen fourth overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, but it wasn't until the 2013-14 season that the 22-year-old center finally delivered. It took some time, but Johansen seems to have been worth that pick. It took more time for Johansen to work out his contract, but like his draft selection, the wait will be worth it if you've already drafted him on your fantasy team.

Now the question is, what can owners expect from the talented Johansen?

Johansen finished his first full NHL season in 2013-14 with 33 goals, 30 assists, a plus-3 rating, 43 penalty minutes, 20 power play points and 237 shots on goal in 82 games. He was the 38th-most valuable fantasy player in Yahoo leagues, and proved to be arguably the biggest breakout player of the season.

Coming into the 2014-15 season with his contract status still undetermined, fantasy insiders ranked Johansen as high as 41st overall and as low as 67th back on September 1. At the moment, he is currently being drafted on average in the seventh round at pick No. 72.7. Clearly, fantasy owners have been getting a discount on him due to his contract holdup. That number will change now.


Johansen has loads of potential and could again be a top 50 fantasy player for the 2014-15 season. However, temper your expectations in the early goings.

Remember New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan and how things worked out for him last season? He was coming off his best NHL season in 2012-13, but didn't sign his contract until four days before the start of the regular season. He missed all of training camp and preseason and came into the regular season cold. And it showed.

Stepan didn't score his first goal until game number 13. He had seven assists and a minus-8 rating in his first 12 games. Being away from your teammates during camp and preseason plays a huge role in your development as a player, especially for a young player like Stepan was and Johansen is now.

Johansen likely will be the Blue Jackets' No. 1 center immediately, but he may start off slow out of the gate, much like Stepan. Once Johansen gets back into the swing of things, look for him to return to his ways as a top 50 caliber fantasy player.

While opposing defenses might be a little more aware of Johansen's ability this season, his ice time per game should increase from 17:38 last season and the same goes for his power-play ice time (2:38 last season), which could help increase his point totals across the board. A 30-goal, 60-point season is certainly within reach again, even with a potentially slow start to the season.

If you drafted Johansen in the seventh round, you've lucked out. If your draft hasn't taken place yet, look to grab him closer to the fifth or sixth rounds now that he's officially back in the fold for the Blue Jackets.


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