From the rest of the league's point of view, the veteran defenseman is a pending unrestricted free agent, so there's a good chance he'd merely be a rental player if another team were to acquire him before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
More importantly, though, Johnson’s game and role have both diminished significantly this season.
He’s averaging a career-low 19:24 in ice time for Columbus in 2017-18, having never finished below 20 minutes per contest in any of his previous 11 NHL campaigns. He has seven points in 46 games, and his 0.15 points per game mark his lowest offensive output since his rookie season 10 years ago.
Johnson also has an even-strength Corsi For mark of only 46.3 so far this season and has never hit 50 percent to drive possession over a full year in his career.
The 31-year-old was already passed on the depth chart by Zach Werenski and Seth Jones, and now he’s been supplanted by Markus Nutivaara. He’s playing on the Blue Jackets’ third pairing alongside Scott Harrington.
Another issue is the money. Johnson’s cap hit is $4.36 million this season, according to CapFriendly, and even if the Blue Jackets retain a portion of that, other clubs aren’t likely to be clamoring to take on that kind of hit for a third-pairing blue-liner whose game is declining.
From the Blue Jackets’ perspective, it wouldn’t be ideal to move him, either.
Despite his diminished skills and pending free-agent status, Johnson is Columbus’ second-oldest player, and the Blue Jackets are the youngest team in the NHL, according to NHLNumbers.
While getting something for him at this point might be beneficial, it wouldn’t make much sense for the Blue Jackets, who will undoubtedly be buyers ahead of the deadline, to deal away their most experienced player in advance of a playoff run.
Johnson’s reported motives – wanting a bigger role and looking to set the table for his unrestricted free agency in the summer amid his well-documented financial troubles – are somewhat understandable, but his value has arguably hit rock bottom at the moment.
He’s not unhappy in Columbus or with his teammates, according to the report, so perhaps the situation can be smoothed over from within. That would clearly be the best outcome, as it’s evident a trade would be a mistake for all teams involved.
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