Ryan Johansen's lackluster effort during the first two periods of the Columbus Blue Jackets' Tuesday game earned him a seat on the bench for that game's final stanza, and it now seems to have earned him a night in the press box. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post-Dispatch reported early Thursday that Johansen would be a healthy scratch for the Blue Jackets' game against the Arizona Coyotes.
Per Portzline, Johansen's going to be getting a refresher course on just what it is the Jackets are looking to see out of him. But Tortorella did his best to make it clear that this wasn't a punishment.
Tortorella said Johansen will be shown video to illustrate what #CBJ are looking for in his play.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) December 17, 2015
#CBJ Tortorella on Johansen: "He's an important guy to our organization. This is a reset for him, in understanding what we're looking ... " — Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) December 17, 2015
"... for, not just in the points but in the play. You can't look at it as a punishment; it's part of the process for him." — Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) December 17, 2015
#CBJ GM Jarmo Kekalainen said he fully supports Tortorella's decision to make a healthy scratch of Ryan Johansen. — Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) December 17, 2015
Johansen, a former first-round pick and far and away the most talented player offensively on the Jackets roster, has struggled this season after signing a three-year deal last year. He's faced questions of his conditioning and general preparedness, seemingly on a nightly basis, and recent rumors and reports have centered on his potentially being dealt this season.
A report from earlier in the year suggested that Kekalainen was already concerned with what Johansen and agent Kurt Overhardt would be seeking on his next deal and, combined with his downturn in play this season, it makes sense then that some teams around the league now believe that Johansen will be dealt this season, as Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman suggested.
If Johansen can "reset" as Torts intimated and reacquire his once-dominant form, Kekalainen would likely be all-too-happy to haggle over a new contract for his No. 1 center in a season's time. But if the issues continue and Johansen falls farther out of favor with Tortorella and the Jackets GM, it really wouldn't be surprising to see him end up elsewhere ahead of Feb. 29.