After trading Johansen, now it’s the Blue Jackets who get to worry about center depth


One trade and so much has changed for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Whereas before everyone wondered about their blue line, now Seth Jones is there, with young Zach Werenski on the way as well. That could be a pretty good defense soon. Like, really good.

But what about center depth? Without Ryan Johansen, now the Blue Jackets will be hearing the same question the Predators used to get all the time. Do you have an elite center? Or, at the very least, do you have a player that could one day become an elite center?

“We have Boone Jenner on the wing who has played center all his life,” Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen told reporters this morning. “He can move into the center position. We have other options, too.”

Like 21-year-old Alexander Wennberg. Unlike Johansen, Wennberg has drawn high praise from coach John Tortorella.

“He’s been probably one of our best play-makers,” Tortorella said of the 14th overall pick in 2013. “For such a young man, I just love his poise, and that’s what you need.”

All that being said, neither Jenner, 22, nor Wennberg are projected to be elite centers, the kind that Stanley Cup-winning teams almost always have, the kind the Predators hope they’ve finally got in Johansen.

“We’ll look at our depth chart a little differently today and moving forward,” conceded Kekalainen. “We have our scouting meetings next week in Florida. We’ll be looking at all our options.”

Don’t forget, if the draft lottery were held today, the Blue Jackets would have a 20 percent chance of winning, which would give them the right to select Auston Matthews.

And wouldn’t that be something.