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Johansen Getting Healthier, Ready To Be a ‘Great Asset’ For Avalanche



Avalanche Johansen

No one wants their vacation interrupted because of work, not even NHL players, but Ryan Johansen will accept it just this one time. The 31 year old center, acquired by the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, was in Napa Valley for his girlfriend’s birthday when he got the call from Nashville GM Barry Trotz that he had been dealt to the Avalanche.

Now, it’s time to get to work.

The newest member of the Avalanche organization met with the media briefly on Monday morning for the first time since the move was announced. He’s excited to get going, and knows he can help his new team.

“I think I can be a great asset in this group,” Johansen said. “It’s a team sport, but as an individual, I know what I’m capable of, and I know how I can play in this league. For me to fit in best, it’s just going to be me at the top of my game.”

This is not the first time Johansen has been dealt in the NHL. Back in January of 2016, Columbus moved him to Nashville for defenseman Seth Jones. Some of you may recall his first game for the Predators was against Colorado, when he scored a beauty for his new squad. This time, he’ll have a few months to prepare.

“I’ve got lots of time to adjust and get comfortable, and get to know all the guys and get in there and get myself ready to be the best that I can be, and have an impact for this group right away.” he said.

One of the bigger questions surrounding Johansen is his health. His final season with the Predators ended early due to a skate blade cut on his ankle. It didn’t have any impact on his achilles tendon, but it was still a pretty serious injury. I asked where he’s at when it comes to his recovery.

“I’ve had to make adjustments with training and rehabbing,” he said. “I was really happy to start getting on the ice at the start of June. I skated a couple of times a week for about three weeks, and felt really good, so that was super encouraging. I’d say I’m super close to 100% now and hopefully by August, just full-on normal and myself. It’s been encouraging to have confidence with moving over that injury and moving past it all.”

While Johansen said he doesn’t really know a lot of the players on the team personally, he does have a history with two of his new coaches, and Avalanche GM Chris MacFarland. Both Jared Bednar and Nolan Pratt were assistants in Springfield when Johansen played there during the lockout about a decade ago, and MacFarland was his assistant GM in Columbus. He’s already spoken to all of them since the trade happened.

“It’s funny,” he said. “I’ve been in the league now for a good amount of time, and over the years, you end up having relationships with so many guys. It’s exciting that those guys believe in me, and want me a part of this team and organization.”

In the end, Johansen knows that he was brought in for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to help this team get back to the top of the mountain. He’s ready to start that process with his new squad.

“From some conversations with players here over the last two days, it’s a hungry group,” Johansen said. “They’ve won, they know what it takes, and they want to continue to win, and they want to do it again. For me, as an older guy in the league now, it’s a real cool opportunity for me to come into this group, and do what I can do, and hope (t0) get back to that same stage.”

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