When Marie Fetters reached the front of Ryan Johansen's autograph line, she pulled enough stuff out of her bag to furnish a small apartment. There was no kitchen sink, but it was clear that if she had one, she would have had the Blue Jackets' top prospect sign it. As happy as she was to meet him at the team's NHL annual draft party - giddy might not be too strong a word to describe her brief introduction - she admitted that she all but shrugged at this event last year when the team took him with the fourth overall pick. "Yeah, it was like, 'Who?,'" she said. "I called my son, Brendan, in North Carolina and he said, 'That's great.' I said, 'OK.' So I thought, 'Well, we'll wait and see.'" The Washington Court House resident wasn't the only one who felt that way. Most of the fans who had gathered in Nationwide Arena for last year's draft party expected to see the team take a top defenseman. They mostly greeted the Johansen pick with a collective yawn. No one is yawning now. Johansen played so well in juniors (40 goals and 52 assists in 63 games for the Portland Winterhawks) and for the Canadian junior national team (three goals, six assists in seven games at the world championships) that he became the player the Jackets refused to give up to get first-line center Jeff Carter from the Philadelphia Flyers. Funny how things sometime work, eh? If the Flyers had insisted the Jackets give up Johansen instead of Jake Voracek, Carter would still be in Philly and last night's draft party probably wouldn't have had near as much energy and enthusiasm. Not bad for a guy who some in the building last year thought was a reach at No. 4. "I wasn't surprised," Johansen said. "I was talking to (the Jackets) quite a bit before the draft. I did a fly-down here for them to get to know me a little more. But I was the type of player who just came along in one year, so it was kind of surprising for the fans, I guess, for (the Jackets) to pick somebody who wasn't on their radar." Carter has been on their radar for a while now. Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson had been talking to the Flyers about him since January, but Jackets fans have come to expect the worst. There were fears that the ever-cautious Howson would never sweeten the pot enough to get the Flyers to make the deal. Howson did that on Thursday with two draft picks, the team's first- and third-rounders; the effect of the move on the team's fan base is palpable.
Jackets' deal, Johansen have fans buzzing
Columbus Dispatch | Jun 25