Ryan Johansen Heading Into Critical Season With Columbus Blue Jackets

Ryan Johansen
Tim Fuller – USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets showed during the 2013 season that they have the pieces in place to be a playoff contender next season. Many young players had a chance to see increased time in the lockout-shortened season due to injuries, and many stepped up. One player the Blue Jackets are still waiting on a bigger effort from is Ryan Johansen, their first round (and fourth overall) pick in the 2010 draft.

Johansen was a gifted scorer while with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, and managed to net nine goals and 21 points for Columbus as a rookie during the 2011-12 season. That brought him some added spotlight this season, and the five goals and 12 points he managed this season has to be considered a disappointment. In 40 games with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL, he scored 17 goals and had 33 points, but was a healthy scratch during the playoffs after a poor showing and questions about motivation. That’s concerning for the Blue Jackets, and they made the right move in sending a strong message about motivation and effort being tied to playing time.

There’s no question Johansen is a skilled center and capable scorer, but he needs to show that for the Blue Jackets on a regular basis. He’ll enter next season with a lot to prove, and if he doesn’t deliver in the final season of his entry-level contract he might be looking for a new home soon.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL senior writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.