One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved on the Columbus side of things did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.
You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:
— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”
— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.
— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.
At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to draw comparisons between Johansen and another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.
Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.
So, consider the similarities now:
— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.
— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.
— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.
— Both are Overhardt guys.
— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.
— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).
For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).
And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.
And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.
The nasty blow Sam Gagner took in Monday’s game against Carolina will keep him on the shelf for a little bit.
Gagner suffered a fairly significant facial laceration, which forced him from the game entirely. He didn’t practice on Tuesday and, in a corresponding move, the Flyers called up Colin McDonald from the AHL to fill Gagner’s spot on the roster.
This is the second facial injury Gagner’s suffered in recent years. He’d previously had his jaw broken by an errant Zack Kassian high stick, while he was with the Oilers and Kassian the Canucks.
Prior to getting hurt, Gagner had two goals and five points in 18 games, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.
Well, that didn’t take long.
“It’s absolutely not true,” said Lemieux, per the club’s Twitter account. “It’s silly.”
Today marked the second time in less than two weeks that the Penguins have been forced do some damage control.
“He did not mean we are mad at each other,” said Crosby. “He meant we are frustrated.”
Every day there seems to be another “thing” about the Pittsburgh Penguins.
We say “thing,” because we’re not really sure how to categorize it. It’s never anything concrete. It’s smoke, without definitive proof of a fire.
But whether it’s Evgeni Malkin saying the Penguins are “mad at each other”…or Guy Lafleur wondering if Sidney Crosby should try and find a new team…or a prominent NHL reporter like Elliotte Friedman talking about the “very tense environment” in the organization…
The clear insinuation is that all is not well in Pittsburgh.
The latest “thing”?
Ex-Penguin Matthew Barnaby has “looked into it” and what’s he’s heard is that Crosby and co-owner Mario Lemieux have had a “big falling out.”
“Now whether that pushes them to move him at some point? Whether he wants to move? That I don’t know,” Barnaby said today on SiriusXM, via Puck Daddy.
Again, it’s all just scuttlebutt at this point. After Malkin’s “mad at each other” remark, the players insisted that that wasn’t true. Malkin said he didn’t mean it that way.
So choose for yourself what to believe.
But despite the winning record, unless this team starts playing the way it was designed to play — i.e. scoring a lot of goals, not the 26th-most in the NHL — don’t be surprised if you hear more “things.”
The Penguins host St. Louis tonight.