McGreevy: Johansen, Moore thriving admist Columbus’ rollercoaster season

Much to the relief of Ryan Johansen and John Moore, the nameplates that hang above their lockers in Nationwide Arena appear to be staying put until the end of the year.

During a disheartening, controversial season, the Blue Jackets’ top rookies have overcome fear of demotion and turned into the silver lining of Columbus’ campaign.

At 19-years-old, Johansen has 17 points through 51 games this season and leads the team with three game-winning goals, placing him sixth in team scoring. On the blue line, John Moore has seven points – two goals and five assists – through 51 games this season.

Although their numbers are not as impressive as those of the league’s top rookies, they have proved their ability through past success.

Drafted fourth overall in 2010, Johansen’s potential was never doubted in Columbus. In the 2011 World Juniors, the centre registered nine points in seven games for Team Canada, and was an integral part of the team’s penalty kill.

Moore, drafted in the first round of the 2009 Draft, spent last season with the Springfield Falcons. During his tenure with the Blue Jackets’ top affiliate, the defenseman had 24 points through 73 games.

Unlike Johansen, Moore did not make Columbus’ roster out of training camp. Regardless of the snub, over time, they have both developed their roles on the team. Separated by only two years, the rookies have a near identical build that has aided them in their success against the league’s top players.

Both listed at 6’3″, Johansen has a slight weight advantage at 203 pounds. Despite the similarity, they use their size in different ways.

Johansen, who faces some of the league’s most brutal grinders, is often forced to bully his way to the front of the net or into the corners and has delivered 53 hits this season, placing him 12th on the team in that department.On the other end of the ice, Moore has a much less confrontational style of play. The quiet defenseman from Winnetka, IL has used his frame to lie in front of the puck, blocking 60 shots to place him fourth on the team.

Amidst Columbus’ recent roster moves, both players have benefited greatly. With three centers traded away, (Jeff Carter, Sammy Pahlsson, and Antoine Vermette) there is more opportunity for Johansen to move off the wing into his original position in the middle of the ice. Looking further ahead, if Rick Nash is traded over the offseason, Johansen can fill the void of the power forward.

In Moore’s case, although adding Jack Johnson to the lineup will translate into less ice time for the rookie defenseman, it also means he has a fellow American mentor to help him through his first years in the NHL.

Johnson, formerly with the Los Angeles Kings, voiced his excitement about joining the organization and helping in the rebuilding process. His role in guiding Moore and the rest of the defensive squad will be integral to the Blue Jackets’ success in the future.

In the final home games of the season, the anticipation of the Blue Jackets’ turnaround is buzzing inside Nationwide Arena. However, below the seats in Columbus’ locker room, the two players around which the rebuilding process is centered are simply glad to be in the lineup.

– Matt McGreevy, Contributing Writer
@mcmatthew4

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