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Trade Grades: Ryan Johansen Dealt To Avalanche

Ryan Johansen
Ryan Johansen has been traded to the Avalanche, but who won the deal? Trade grades are in for the deal between Nashville and Colorado. (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Trade Grades: Ryan Johansen Dealt To Avalanche

The Vegas Golden Knights are Stanley Cup champions and Joe Sakic was not about to sit on his hands in order to get Colorado back on top. The Avalanche finally got their second line center again after striking a deal for Ryan Johansen. Now that the dust has settled, let’s hand out some trade grades! Which team won the deal?

Nashville Predators receive Alex Galchenyuk. Also, retain 50% of Johansen’s deal ($4 million in dead cap).

Galchenyuk, 29, is set to become a free agent on July 1st. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Nashville got nothing back for Johansen. This move was about clearing money. Nashville will take on $4 million in dead cap over the next two years just to rid themselves of Johansen. Was it worth it?

I think we have to maintain a wait and see mode on this one. How does that extra $4 million get used? Is this a situation where the Preds take on a bad deal that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to had they kept Johansen’s cap hit? If that’s the case, this trade will look a lot better for them.

However, until that happens this deal doesn’t make a ton of sense. Mostly because they got nothing in return. Johansen, 30, posted 28 points in 55 games last year in a down season. The year prior, Johansen notched 63 points in 77 games. He’s obviously overpaid but to receive nothing feels like a really bad outcome. Was this a situation where Nashville was going to buy him out and would rather take some cap relief instead? Was getting nothing really the best alternative?

Furthermore, this uses another cap retention spot on the books. Nashville only has one left after retaining on Mattias Ekholm. Nashville also had a reasonable amount of cap space and weren’t forced to make this deal.

For now, I’m giving the Preds a D. It’s very defensible if they use that extra $4 million to eat a bad deal in order to collect an asset. Otherwise, it feels like an act of desperation just to move off a bad contract.

Grade: D

Colorado Avalanche receives Ryan Johansen at 50% retention ($4 million AAV through 2024-25).

Was this deal worth it for Colorado? The money in all of this is what’s going to matter most.

The Landeskog LTIR thing might really be a saving grace here. I’m not sure the Avs could have pulled this trade off otherwise. Colorado still has cap space but it’s also really misleading. Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook will receive substantial raises as RFA’s. They also only have seven forwards under contract next year and will need to actually fill out the rest of this roster.

Can they afford to bring back JT Compher or was already the move to replace him? That part remains to be seen. However, if this was the move to replace Compher, this was probably a mistake. Compher is a better player than Johansen and took a huge step forward last year. Even if Compher returns, Johansen is a far cry from the player Nazem Kadri is which was the guy they needed to win the Cup in 2022.

How much is Colorado going to improve beyond Johansen? Are we sure he’s even worth the reduced cap hit? I very much understand the gamble but we have to recognize that this is definitely a gamble. This is the same guy that posted 12 goals and 28 points in 55 total outings in Nashville last year. He’s regressed as a player and has suffered his fair share of injuries.

I’m giving the Avalanche a C for now with the caveat that this can’t be the last move. Colorado has way more work to do and will still need another center after Johansen. If Johansen’s new deal precludes the Avalanche from really upgrading this team, this deal was probably a mistake.

Grade: C

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