NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators acquired Ryan Johansen from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday in a trade for defenseman Seth Jones, giving them the No. 1 center they have long sought.
"It's just a roller coaster of thoughts, everything going on right now," Johansen said. "... It's a very good hockey club over in Nashville, which myself and the rest of this League has always been aware about. It's a huge opportunity for me to take the next step in my career and hopefully build a championship team over in Nashville."
DAN ROSEN'S TRADE ANALYSIS
By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer
The long search for a No. 1 center by the Nashville Predators and for a No. 1 defenseman by the Columbus Blue Jackets is finally over. It took one giant swing for the fences by Predators general manager David Poile to make it happen.
The Predators sent prized young defenseman Seth Jones to the Blue Jackets in a trade for prized young center Ryan Johansen on Wednesday.
Jones is a star-in-the-making, a 6-foot-4, 208-pound, 21-year-old whose next game will be his 200th in the NHL. He immediately tops the Blue Jackets' defensive depth chart, and Columbus coach John Tortorella should love him.
READ ROSEN'S FULL ANALYSIS ›
The Predators have been searching for someone like Johansen, a 23-year-old former all-star, since they came into the NHL in the 1998-99 season.
"Today, in my belief, we accomplished something that we haven't been able to in 18 years of our history, and that's to acquire a No. 1 center," Predators general manager David Poile said. "We've had a lot of good players come through here, and we've had some good centers, but I think we have a chance here to have truly a No. 1 center, something that we've been coveting for a long time."
Johansen will try to make an immediate impact with the Predators, who have struggled to find consistency on offense. They rank in the bottom half of the League at 2.55 goals per game and have scored two goals or fewer in 14 of their past 23 games.
Johansen had an up and down first half of the season with the Blue Jackets, including in-game benchings and a healthy scratch. He had six goals and 20 assists in 38 games after an NHL career-high 71 points last season, when he played in the Honda NHL All-Star Game.
"Yeah, the first half [of the season] obviously hasn't been how I drew it up, but I've got a chance now to really get my game back on track and where I want it to be and have a great finish to the season and hopefully make a long run in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]," Johansen said. "As for being a Predator now and fitting in with that team, I know they were looking for a top centerman, so I just want to fit that role and hopefully make the team better in that way, I guess.
"I'll do everything I can to just help the team win. I'm just excited to be able to have the chance to play with some elite players. They have three guys who made the All-Star team here with [Shea Weber], [Roman Josi] and [Pekka] Rinne, so it's going to be cool to be on the ice with those guys."
Poile said Johansen will bring more balance to an offense that has relied heavily on its defensemen; Josi and Weber are the leading scorers.
"Well, I know the expectations I have for my game, and if I'm meeting those then I think the fans in Nashville would be happy with my play," Johansen said. "There's definitely expectations from the fans. We're all hockey fans. I was a fan growing up in Vancouver, and if Markus Naslund wasn't scoring I was upset. It's my job to go out there and play to my abilities and do what I can do. I'm going to come in with a fresh start on a new team and try and do my thing."
|Tale of the tape
|2010, 4th overall
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There was speculation that Johansen's relationship with Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who replaced Todd Richards seven games into this season, may have played a factor in him being traded. Johansen was the No. 4 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, and he had 79 goals and 114 assists in 309 games for the Blue Jackets.
"My relationship with [Tortorella], it was good," Johansen said. "He's different. We've all kind of heard how he approaches the coaching situation. He's an in-your-face type of coach and he tries to get the most out of you. That's the way he knows how to coach so I think when he made some decisions like scratching me or scratching [forward Scott Hartnell] or other guys like that, it's easier to talk about in a negative way.
"Me and coach got along fine. He definitely had a couple of disagreements with me, but that's part of the game. I think he was looking out for my best interests and wanted me to be the best I could be. I'm not sure what happened behind closed doors or whatever on that side of it. That's nothing I should worry about or can worry about. It's just part of the game, I guess."
Poile stated weeks ago he didn't want to use a defenseman in a trade and specifically said he wasn't interested in trading Jones, the No. 4 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. However, as the process moved forward and talks intensified, it became clear to Poile he was going to have to give up a defenseman to get the kind of offensive return he desired.
"I wanted my cake and eat it too," Poile said. "Did I want to touch our defense? Did I want to trade [Jones]? Absolutely no. I always feel this way when you come to making a deal, whether you're signing a contract or trading a player, when you start really getting the butterflies and getting that antsy feeling and you know that there's some pain, you must be getting close to making the deal. I certainly felt that way, especially in the last couple of days when the talks intensified."
Nashville begins a four-game road trip Friday against the Colorado Avalanche.
"I had a quick chat with [Poile]. I'm actually going to be talking to him I guess shortly here," Johansen said. "Our expectations are to get me to Nashville as soon as possible, maybe even [Wednesday night] and then suit up against Colorado I believe. I think there's like a three-game road trip in there or something. I want that jersey on as soon as possible and start the new chapter I guess. We'll go have some fun."