Chicago Blackhawks forward Tyler Johnson is unfazed at the NHL trade deadline — especially after falling victim to a prank

Tyler Johnson used to worry about trades when he was younger — until a teammate used a fake deal to psych him out.

Ben Bishop, my rookie year (with the Tampa Bay Lightning), called me using (then-Lightning general manager) Steve Yzerman’s number to prank me, saying I was traded,” the Chicago Blackhawks forward said Saturday. “That was a pretty scary moment for myself.”

Johnson said Bishop used an app to mask the call as a different number.

“I remember sitting in my hotel room at that time, because I didn’t even have a place then, and it just popped up as Steve Yzerman and I was freaking out,” he said, laughing. “It was good. He got quite a few of the young guys on our team that year.”

After a moment of panic, Johnson quickly figured it out after he started talking.

“I was like, ‘Hey, Mr. Yzerman,’ and then you start talking to him and I was like, ‘Ah, dammit, Bish!’ I knew right away. But yeah, it’s a little nerve-wracking.”

Needless to say, Johnson hasn’t worried about trades nearly as much since then.

So he’s not particularly concerned with Friday’s NHL trade deadline, with his and Colin Blackwell’s names circulating as possible targets. Both are playing on expiring contracts.

“They’re really leaders on the team, vocal leaders,” Philipp Kurashev said. “They talk a lot when we have team talks or during the breaks. They’ve been great for us and I think we learned a lot from them.”

Kurashev said players try to focus on the game, but this time of year is still difficult.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “You try not to have it on your mind but you know some deals are going to happen.”

Johnson, 33, has been traded once in his 12-year career — the Bolts shipped him to the Hawks in 2021 for Brent Seabrook. It was a culture shock in a lot of ways, and the trade deadline was no different.

“When I was in Tampa, we were pretty much buyers the whole time, so guys weren’t really too worried about everything,” he said. “Last couple of years here, being sellers is a little different.

“You see a lot of guys go that you’ve been with all year and they’re family and friends, so it’s tough to see them leave.”

The most jarring had to be last season when Patrick Kane, a Hawks icon, was traded to the New York Rangers.

“It’s definitely different when you’re on both sides,” Johnson said. “It’s hard on everybody because there’s so much uncertainty. Even guys that don’t have their name out there can still be traded. It’s one of those things, you never really know.”

Johnson had 12 goals and six assists in 45 games entering Saturday night’s matchup against the Blue Jackets at the United Center. Blackwell, 30, posted five goals (two in back-to-back games last week) and three assists in 30 games.

Beyond the stats, Johnson has been one of the veterans coach Luke Richardson has leaned on, particularly because he brings championship experience: Stanley Cups in 2020 and ‘21.

“He’s been in a lot of different situations,” Richardson said. “You can use that guy, he’s very versatile, so it’s nice to put him with some younger guys or you can put him with some older guys at the end of the game when you need a crucial situation to take care of.

“Tyler’s been huge in that department.”