Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
The Washington Capitals announced Saturday that they have signed forward Marcus Johansson to a 2-year deal worth an average of $2 million per year.
MJ90’s contract may serve as a final audition for a player who has shown fleeting moments of greatness, but is not yet an exceptional presence in the Caps’ top six.
Johansson has played 183 regular-season games with the Capitals since 2o1o, establishing himself as a talented skater. Johansson put up 6 goals and 16 assists in 34 games with the Capitals last season, one in which he was two entirely separate players. From the season’s start through the beginning of February, a concussion-addled Johansson struggled and brought his teammates down with him. Returning a month later and then paired with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, Johannson performed much better.
It’s possible we don’t yet know what kind of player Marcus Johansson is. He’s rarely been a positive possession player (he’s driven play more than team average in just one season despite having favorable zone starts and modest competition), and he doesn’t shoot the puck enough to prove himself as an elite scorer (despite sporting a shooting percentage of 14.2% over 232 shots). He’s played poorly when hurt and paired with mediocre teammates. He’s played well when healthy and paired with a superstar like Nick Backstrom. The impression is that Johansson is a passenger.
It’s apparent that George McPhee is aware of this reputation. Hopefully, this contract’s term allows Johansson enough time to prove himself as a legitimate top-six forward who drives play rather than a non-factor– or worse: a player who drags his teammates down.
With the signing, the Capitals are now practically bumping up against the salary cap.
From the Capitals:
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have re-signed center Marcus Johansson to a two-year, $4 million contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. Johansson will earn $1,825,000 in 2013-14 and $2,175,000 in 2014-15.
Johansson, 22, recorded 22 points (6 goals, 16 assists) in 34 games during the 2012-13 season. He ranked tied for fourth on the Capitals in assists and tied for fifth in power-play goals (3). The 6’1”, 205-pound center posted career marks during the 2011-12 campaign when he collected 46 points (14 goals, 32 assists) in 80 games with Washington. He ranked third on the team in assists, tied for third in points and tied for seventh in goals.
The Landskrona, Sweden, native has collected 95 points (33 goals, 62 assists) and 22 penalty minutes in 183 regular-season games with the Capitals. Among his 2009 draft class, Johansson ranks fifth in goals and points, seventh in assists and eighth in games played. In addition, the center has recorded four goals and seven assists in 30 career NHL playoff games.
A two-time medalist at the IIHF World Junior Championship, Johansson helped lead Sweden to a bronze medal in 2010, recording six points (1g, 5a) in five games. Sweden won the silver medal in 2009, as Johansson registered two goals in six games.
Johansson was drafted by Washington in the first round (24th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.