So, yesterday there was a segment of the fanbase who was a little bit upset about the Devils not improving enough on the opening of free agency. Today, Ray Shero reminded fans why he is considered one of the smartest men in hockey.
The Devils acquired former Washington Capital forward Marcus Johansson for two 2018 draft picks – the Florida Panthers’ second round pick (which the Devils acquired for Marc Savard, an all but retired-from-concussions-player whose contract was only taken on to reach the cap floor) and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ third round pick (which New Jersey got as compensation for the Leafs hiring of Lou Lamoriello).
Johansson is 26 years old, a seven year pro and a native of Landskrona, Sweden. Last year he had a career high in points with 58 (coming off of 24 goals and 34 assists) according to the Devils’ press release. The press release notes that five of those goals were game winners and two were overtime goals. He played in all 82 games last season. Those 58 points put him fourth on a stacked Washington team in scoring (behind only Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov – not a bad lineup there – he finished only one point behind Kuznetsov to boot).
The left-shooting winger gives the Devils some pop in the offensive category, somewhere the team has been lacking in for a long time. He had just signed a three-year, $13.75 million contract with the Caps last year. The contract has an average annual value of $4.58 million.
Although the team still has some holes in varying places, this helps them along very nicely. They certainly benefitted from the Capitals early exit in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, as Washington has been retooling and did not see Johansson as part of their future plans.
Speaking of the playoffs, he has obviously played a lot of playoff games for the Caps in recent years and since 2011, he has nine goals and 21 assists for 30 points in 69 games along with six penalty minutes. Two of those goals came on the power play.
One of the main reasons that the team went after Johansson was his possession stats. If you are familiar with Corsi, he has a 49.7 Corsi for percentage at even strength throughout his career according to Hockey-Reference.com. Similarly he has a 49.4 Fenwick for percentage at even strength. These stats basically measure how much his team controls the puck when this player is on the ice. This plays into John Hynes’ wish for the team to be a strong puck possession squad.
But no matter if you are into analytics or the eye test, there is no denying that Marcus Johansson is a good player. He will make the Devils’ offense, which has struggled to say the least (they finished third from the bottom in goals for – behind only the Avalanche, who were historically bad last year, and the Canucks – with only 183), that much better.
And all this for only two acquired picks.