Islanders Should Make Offer Sheet or Trade For Ryan Johansen

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 14: Ryan Johansen
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 14: Ryan Johansen /

The Islanders are still trying to land that elusive second line center. Ryan Johansen just became a RFA. Could he be the solution to the Isles problems?

The New York Islanders are on the hunt for a center to play the number two spot behind their star, Johnny ‘over-time’ Tavares. Ryan Johansen was one of the key pieces in the Predator’s Cup run. He’s about to turn 25 and he just became an RFA.

Johansen’s still young, and he’s a big guy at 6-3, 218 lbs. The last four years he’s been averaging 64 points and 81 games a season. RJ chews up minutes; around 18 every game. Plus he’s a right handed draw winner, averaging 54.6 % at the face off dot.

Brooks Jones at the FanSided Predators site ‘Predlines’ did a salary comparison between similar players. He estimates Johansen’s next contract to be roughly 5 years $35 million dollars, with a cap hit and AAV of $7 million.

Based on this chart:

The Isles could offer Johansen a five to seven year, $49 million contract and the penalty would be two 1st rounders, one 2nd rounder, and one 3rd rounder.

I know that sounds like a lot, but look at it like a trade. The Islander’s best trade assets right now are the extra draft picks from the Hamonic trade, which is perfect for making an offer sheet.

However, Nashville just missed out on owning the holiest of hardware last season. That makes me feel it’s unlikely they’d let their top center go for just picks; almost no matter how high we drove up the salary.

So instead let’s make them a different offer; one with players ready to help with Nashville’s “win now” situation as well as some future considerations.

What It Could Look Like

Preds Get

Nelson was selected 30th overall in 2010; he’s the same age as Johansen. Both play center, and Brock too is 6-3 and over 200 lbs.

Like Johansen, Nelson also consistently plays full seasons. He’s a reliable 20 goal scorer; notching 45 points in ’16-’17; he even got named one of the year’s top 40 break-out players.

Brock will probably work his butt off next year since it’s the season before his contract is up. His cap hit is super reasonable at only $2.5 million for one more year.

After next season he’ll be a RFA like Johansen is now. That means Nashville can hold onto him if they want to the same way they can with RJ this year.

Shane Prince is also about Johansen’s age, but will probably continue to develop only into a reliable depth forward. He is an RFA after next season as well, so this will be a “show-me” year for him too.

Combined he and Nelson scored 25 goals and 38 assists. Johansen scored 14 goals 47 assists; two points less than Prince and Brock.

Nashville can use the extra picks in the draft…or in a trade. Maybe with Vegas to get back James Neal? And they’d probably have a pick left over.

The Preds would still have decent depth up the middle, with Jarnkrok, Bonino, Smith, Forsberg, Nelson, Gaudreau and Sissons all comfortable at center.

Isles Get

The Islanders get Johansen, hopefully on an 8 year, $50 million deal. They also clear around $3.35 million in cap space, which leaves enough room to re-sign both Pelech and de Haan.

For the first time since Frans Nielsen left there will be a real second line center. A big, right handed, play-making scorer who can win draws; just what NY needs.

Garth gains the negotiating power to convince Tavares the Isles can win and he should stay.

Projected Line-up & Why

Lee – Tavares – Eberle

Beauvillier – Johansen – Ho-Sang

Ladd – Barzal – Bailey

Chimera – Czikas – Clutterbuck

Dal Colle – Quine – Kulemin in reserve.

The first line of offense is a relative lock.

On the second line, Beau and Ho-Sang stay together because they found chemistry late last season. Putting 6-3, 218 lb Johansen in the middle will keep the younger, smaller guys relatively safe from bullies. He’s not known for grit, but he’s no push-over.

More from Free Agency

Barzal will get a chance to play with some experienced, well-rounded players. Bailey remains on a similarly structured line; hopefully, he can have a similar performance to last year’s. Ladd gets to play with a right handed center again.

The triple CCC line of Chimera, Czikas and Clutterbuck… They can all skate and they love to dish out the body checks. Plus they’ll probably provide solid depth scoring. The Islander’s fourth line will terrorize the league once more!

This lineup leaves a bigger player on each of the first 3 lines to watch over the smaller guys. There are 4 right handed players who weren’t in the line-up for most of last year, including two centers. The Isles will be more balanced than before, so the power-play should really get a boost.

Next: Six Islander Trade Proposals Not Involving Duchene

The Preds might find this trade worth their time. (If not maybe the Isles should make a move for Neal…) Anyways, did I leave the rink doors open in the summertime heat again, or could this actually work?