Vancouver Canucks need to stay far away from Jack Johnson

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 24: Jack Johnson
COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 24: Jack Johnson /

Jack Johnson wants out of Columbus. The Vancouver Canucks need to avoid him, considering where the club is during this phase of the rebuild as well as their place in the standings.

In a surprising win on Friday night, the Vancouver Canucks finally picked up their first win in 2018, which was also the third win for the club in its last 16 games. For the Blue Jackets, they completed their back-to-back games before going into the bye week. It’s not a great look to lose to Buffalo and Vancouver on consecutive nights, but considering where the Blue Jackets are in the Metropolitan division, I don’t think the team is concerned.

What brought my attention was the news announced shortly after the game. Aaron Portzline from the Athletic revealed last night that Jack Johnson had requested a trade. Portzline’s article is locked behind a paywall, so here is Sportsnet’s coverage of the news.

Unsurprisingly, Johnson is not happy about his reduced role on the third pairing for the Blue Jackets. The American defenceman used to contribute offence from his previous role, having two 40-point seasons under his belt. However, as he aged, Johnson’s game has declined.

He turns 31 today, and will not be improving from here. Johnson can play tough minutes, but I sincerely hope he is not expecting a pay raise from his $4.36 million cap hit. Honestly, he only has seven points on the season and his playing on the third pairing of a deep defensive corps.

I understand why he would want a trade. He wants to play in a larger role during the end of this season to increase his value at free agency. The cost to acquire him will likely be expensive and I’m not sure that many teams will pay a stiff price for a rental like Johnson.

Jack Johnson does not fit with the Canucks at this stage

The Vancouver Canucks need to be sellers, not buyers at the trade deadline. If the club is not moving picks or prospects, then there isn’t much to offer Columbus. However, the acquisition cost does not concern me as much as Johnson’s impact on the lineup.

More from The Canuck Way

Head coach Travis Green is similar to Mike Babcock in the way he prefers his defence to be constructed. They prefer left-shot defenders on the left side and right-shot defenders on the right. The only reason Derrick Pouliot played on the right side was due to injuries. Pouliot has been scratched recently in favor of right-shot defenceman, Alex Biega.

Johnson may play on the right side in Columbus, but Green could prefer to use him on the left side. This would push Michael Del Zotto down the depth chart, but more importantly, Ben Hutton would be sent back to the pressbox.

If Johnson is a long-term commitment, he would take a roster spot away from Olli Juolevi. You could argue that Juolevi just has to earn a spot, but honestly, look at how this team is operated. There is no such thing as a meritocracy. Johnson would be guaranteed a spot and Juolevi would never get a fair chance.

The Canucks are rebuilding and it should stay that way. We are near the bottom of the standings and have no business making a “win-now” type of trade. Canucks fans have seen too many short-term moves that put a stall to the rebuild.

Jim Benning must stay the course at the deadline. Move Erik Gudbranson and Thomas Vanek. Then, see where you can go from there. It would be nice to move out Sam Gagner, since I feel he takes a roster spot away from a promising, young player, but that is merely a pipe dream at this point.

Next: 3 takeaways from 5-2 win in Columbus

This rebuild has to add younger defencemen who can contribute on offence. Our blueline is a glaring weakness and Juolevi is not nearly enough to turn this area of the team around. The Canucks have additional defensive prospects, but I don’t see any other top four defencemen in that group. Jack Johnson makes the team older, worse and he gets in the way of our younger players. That is why I think the Canucks should stay far away from him and focus on what is important: the future.