It started with a breakout pass, and ended with Ryan Johansen‘s 30th goal of the season, an overtime winner to boot. With that game winning overtime goal, Johansen became only the third player in Columbus Blue Jackets franchise history to score 30 goals in a season. He joins Geoff Sanderson (2) and newly turned heel Rick Nash (7) in the Blue Jacket 30 goal club, and shows no sign of stopping there.
It was just last season that Johansen played 40 games in the AHL for the Springfield Falcons, and was starting to be looked at as a another high draft pick that the Blue Jackets whiffed on. What a difference a year makes, last year around this time we had what we thought was a perennial 40 goal scorer in Marian Gaborik, who knew we had one playing in Springfield. Now, Gaborik has been traded to the L.A. Kings after that experiment went South, and we have a new player to look to for our scoring needs.
The Blue Jackets have finally found that No. 1 center they have been searching for since the inaugural season of 2000-2001. Ryan Johansen is in the last year of his entry-level contract, he picked the right season to breakout as he will be a RFA this offseason, and will be getting a raise sooner rather than later.
With this young team, no player wearing a “C” on his chest, Ryan has been a welcome surprise this year as he had only given us flashes of greatness before this season. I do not think he will be wearing the “C” anytime soon, but it is nice to see him stepping up to be an integral part of this team, not only this year but hopefully for years to come. He is not only scoring the puck, he has 25 assists, is a +1 on the season, and has won 53% of his face-offs this year.
The Blue Jackets were left with a huge void when Rick Nash left for the “greener pastures” of New York City, this team didn’t know who was going to be the scorer, well now they know someone can and will score the puck. The Blue Jackets have 5 players that will more than likely score 20 goals this season, with a chance of a sixth player getting there as well. They also know they have a player that can put up 30+ goals in a season, and be the go to guy when a goal needs scored. Ryan has turned into a player that was chosen 4th overall in the NHL Draft, he has had the torch passed to him and although it might not have looked like the brightest flame 2 years ago, it now burns bright with potential.
This team will go as far as this young nucleus will take them, but having Johansen as part of that nucleus has to make every Columbus Blue Jacket fan feel warm and tingly inside. This team has so much potential, and the future is looking brighter than it ever has. With Johansen showing the ability to carry the load as the leading scorer for this team, it makes it easier for other’s to step into their roles and help this team get to the next level. That next level is not making the playoffs every once in a while, it is making the playoffs every year, while being a Cup contender year in and year out.
The torch has been passed, now it is up to Ryan Johansen as to what he does next, something tells me it is going to be something pretty special.