Columbus Blue Jackets veteran defenseman Jack Johnson made headlines last month when he demanded a trade and openly discussed his wish with head coach John Tortorella.
“I hope people can understand that it’s a situation where you’re just trying to do what’s best for your family — me, my wife and kids. I think any husband or father can relate to that.”
However, the Jackets didn't do much following his demand. After all, fellow blue liner Ryan Murray remains sidelined with injury and the team does not want to shoot itself in the foot by moving Johnson too early.
But with just six days to go before the trade deadline, now seems to be the time to honor Johnson's trade demand and try to move him to a rival club.
"If Murray returns soon, it could grease the skids for the Blue Jackets to honor Jack Johnson's trade request, which became public early last month and remained in place as of Monday. Toronto, Los Angeles and Anaheim are all said to be in the market for a defenseman," reports Aaron Portzline of The Athletic.
It's no secret that the Maple Leafs have been looking to add a quality defenseman, but unfortunately for Johnson, there is heavy competition on the market. It features several other left-shot defencemen — Ian Cole, Paul Martin, Ryan McDonagh, Niklas Hjalmarsson — and Johnson’s numbers have shrunk.
"Recent reports suggest the Blue Jackets could get a late first-round draft pick in return for Johnson, an unrestricted free agent this summer. Perhaps they could swap UFAs with another club — Toronto? — that has too many forwards.
But trading Johnson remains a tricky proposition for Kekalainen," adds Portzline.
The Jackets might need his physicality and grit, especially if Murray is not back in the lineup in time for the deadline. He has traveled with the team for tonight's matchup, but there is no specific return date as of now.
Columbus is looking for forward help during its playoff race, but is not looking to sale off Johnson and miss the postseason. In the meantime, Johnson's desire to play more minutes has been honored.
"The trade request was successful for Johnson on one front: In the nine games since it was made public, Johnson has played 20:16 per game. He was drawing 17:00 per game in the five previous games," Portzline tells us.
Which is better than nothing for Johnson. For now.