2013 NHL Offseason: Is Ryan Johansen Going To Be A Problem?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After blooming in the second half of the NHL season, Ryan Johansen seems to have stepped back into his shell when he returned to Springfield for the Falcons' playoff run. Was it simply fatigue, or could this be a red flag about the young center's attitude?

Even as Blue Jackets fans cheer for Sergei Bobrovsky's campaign to rule the NHL 14 cover vote, and we commiserate with Lou, Katy, and the Springfield fan community about their season coming to an end, we have to think about the future.

With a strong core established, and a number of young players stepping into larger roles, much is expected of guys like Cam Atkinson, Dalton Prout, Matt Calvert, and Ryan Johansen.

Of that group, both Prout and Johansen were probably the most impressive at the end of last season. Johansen scored some key goals in the final stretch, and seemed to be blossoming into a top two-way player before our eyes, visibly frustrating guys like Joe Thornton and Gabriel Landeskog when matched against them defensively. Prout stepped into the shutdown role, and was one of the best even strength performers the club had down the stretch, allowing just one goal in five on five play over the final ten games of the regular season.

Not surprisingly, since both were eligible to return to Springfield, they were sent to Massachusetts at the end of the NHL season with the expectation of being impact players in the Falcons' postseason run.

I'll let Lou discuss the end of the Falcons' postseason against Syracuse. He was there, I wasn't, and he's more than earned the right to break down what worked, and what didn't, as we consider this season.

But the path that Johansen and Prout took after reaching the Falcons is concerning.

Remembering that both missed the first game of the playoffs due to travel, let's look at their stat lines:

GP

G

A

+/-

SOG

PIM

Johansen

5

0

1

-8

7

2

Prout

6

0

1

0

6

14

Why does Johansen have one less game?

Because he was scratched in the final playoff matchup against Syracuse.

Now, admittedly, the team was down 3-0 and showed every sign of getting plowed by the club that is for all intents and purposes the reigning Calder Cup champs, and has been a juggernaut in the A for the past three seasons.

But if you have a player who is supposed to be a top performer in a must-win game, wouldn't you want him on board?

It's clear that Johansen was underperforming defensively, and this isn't the first time he seemed to hit the AHL and go flat. He wasn't exactly a word beater to start the season in Springfield, and he had several multi-game slumps in November and December.

The timing, however, is concerning. After a relatively clean sheet in his first two appearances (no points, even +/-, 1 shot on goal in each), Johasen was -3 with one assist, -2, and -3. Those numbers don't make his scratch too surprising, but the timing of it all, on the surface, looks suspect.

Unless we find out that Johansen was nursing an injury (which, I admit, is certainly possible), this looks like a player who decided he wasn't really happy, and started to get lazy. He stopped playing smart, and his team got burned as a result.

That is, simply, the exact opposite of the attitude the team is working to foster in Columbus. We want to see the club playing 100%, lights out, fully committed hockey. The "Country Club" is closed, and I don't think the fans or the front office will tolerate it being re-opened.

If this was a combination of disappointment, injury, and bad timing...well, it happens. But you're expected to be a pro, and you're expected to help your team to win no matter where you end up playing.

We saw the Johan take some big strides in his game, and quite a bit of physical growth. Now we need to see him take the next step personally and professionally, and it starts with cleaning up that attitude.

You're a man now, Ryan. The club needs you to step up no matter where you're asked to contribute, and the fans want to see you take things to the next level.

Right now, I don't see it happening.

I would like nothing better than for you to show up in camp this fall and prove me wrong.

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