If it’s true Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is listening to calls about center Ryan Johansen, that’s the type of player Wild GM Chuck Fletcher should get in on, not Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic.
The Wild doesn’t need a top-four defenseman. It needs a No. 1 center.
Johansen, 23, the fourth overall pick in 2010 taken one slot ahead of Portland Winterhawks linemate Nino Niederreiter, scored 59 goals and 134 points the past two years.
Still, he appears on the outs in Columbus. Johansen recently was demoted to the fourth line by coach John Tortorella. Last year, a contract dispute ended with him signing a three-year, $12 million deal.
Who knows if the Wild has the assets or dollars to make it happen (Johansen will want big money in two years). The Blue Jackets need a D, but would Fletcher be willing to dangle Jonas Brodin or Matt Dumba or Gustav Olofsson?
Johansen is trying to ignore the rumors. “They’ve told me before that they’re committed to me and they want me to be their guy here,” he told the Columbus Dispatch. “When you’re on a losing team … there’s going to be speculation.”
Division of death
The way things are going, the sixth team in the Central Division could end up with more points than the third team in the Pacific and wind up out of the playoffs in the NHL’s playoff format wisdom.
“Your division record could be what gets you in or gets you out,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “If you can play over .500 in your division, you probably have a good chance of getting in.”