This is a strange one.
Center Ryan Johansen, who by all accounts was having a great year in Springfield prior to the start of the shortened NHL season, was demoted back to the AHL today.
The timing is certainly curious. Brandon Dubinsky is facing potential discipline for boarding Rob Scuderi during last night's game against the Kings. If Dubinsky is forced to miss games due to suspension, this creates a very large void up the middle.
Though Johansen only has a pair of assists on the year, he was consistently making plays in the offensive zone, and was no slouch in the faceoff circle, either. It's a shame that Cam Atkinson is out with an injury, as the duo could have, and should have, been put together to continue the success they were having as Falcons for the first half of the season.
The guess here is that the coaching staff wanted to get Mark Letestu off of the fourth line, giving him the third line center spot with Derek MacKenzie slotting in to his familiar fourth line pivot spot. If Johansen wasn't going to be on a scoring line, the brass wanted him to be putting up points in the AHL until he forces his way into the top six.
To me, I think this is bogus when you have Derek Dorsett currently playing a top six role. Dorsett practiced this morning on a line with R.J. Umberger and Artem Anisimov. For a team that struggles to score, why not give an offensively-gifted player like Johansen a shot with Umby and Arty? Umberger has struggled mightily this season, while Arty has been the Jackets' top forward. Johansen could have been what brought the trio together as a unit, igniting Umby.
Letestu has played well, and if he's the reason that Johansen was moved out of the middle I can understand that. I don't understand not slotting Johansen on the wing at least, before sending him down to the minors.