Jack Johnson's trade request puts the Columbus Blue Jackets in a position few saw coming as the NHL trade deadline approaches, and now, there seems to be another chapter to the ongoing trade saga...
NHL insider Elliotte Friedman has reported, in his weekly 31 Thoughts on Sportsnet, that something is up in Columbus and Johnson's trade demand. As per Friedman:
"It’s one of those situations where we probably won’t know the full story unless someone opens up, but it has been rumoured for a while now that Johnson was close to an extension with Columbus early in the season, but… something happened. One of the reasons he asked for a trade is because his ice-time has dropped, but I don’t think that was ever the Blue Jackets’ plan."
Friedman went on to explain GM Jarmo Kekalainen's position in this trade saga, saying the team would like to hold on to the former first rounder.
"GM Jarmo Kekalainen said any deal would be done at the team’s leisure, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they waited to see whether or not Johnson regained his form. That could also benefit the player, since Columbus has high hopes and he could still be a part of that. Johnson’s never been much of a talker, but when he got to Ohio, the organization appreciated his work ethic and approach at a time it needed good pros. Unfortunate it could end this way — it was a good marriage for both."
The bankruptcy issue
Back in 2014, it came to light that Johnson’s parents, Tina and Jack Sr, had mismanaged their son’s money so badly they were over $10 million in debt. It was reported that the defenseman had forfeited his $5 million annual salary for two years to pay back loans that were taken out in his name.
He then agreed to a court bankruptcy settlement that allows him to be able to keep about $246,000 a year for living expenses.
Friedman did not mention that the current mystery over Johnson's trade request was related to his financial burden.
The waiting game
Neither Johnson nor his agent, Pat Brisson, have publicly commented about his request. Kekalainen said his club will make a trade “if and when we have something that makes sense for the Blue Jackets," per the Columbus Dispatch.
The Jackets' asking price for Johnson could be a top-nine forward. Rumors linked them to center Matt Duchene prior to the Avalanche shipping him to the Senators. Some NHL insiders have hinted that the Montreal Canadiens or Boston Bruins might be interested in landing Johnson.
Unless the mystery comes out and scares suitors away...