Sabres Snap Devils’ Bid For Perfect Homestand in OT

Sports are weird. The Devils had won five straight games and six out of their last seven. They are in the hunt for first place in the Metropolitan Division, the toughest division in the Eastern Conference, if not the entire NHL. The Devils were rolling this holiday season and nothing seemed to be able to derail them.

Then along come the Buffalo Sabres, last place in the Eastern Conference, falling behind in the much weaker Atlantic Division. They had won only one overtime game this year and were just struggling overall. But, instead of the script going the way it should have – the Devils winning on home ice and sweeping a homestand of more than five games for the first time in their 35 years of existence – the Sabres were the ones who prevailed, in OT, 4-3. They came back from a two goal deficit and a little bit of help from instant replay to top the Devils.

Buffalo is currently on an extended road trip (one which includes a “home” game at Citi Field against the Rangers in the Winter Classic) due to the IIHF World Junior Championship taking over their facilities in Western New York.

A roster move to inform you about: Dalton Prout cleared waivers and was assigned to Binghamton of the AHL. The Devils had to make this move after the Christmas break roster freeze and getting everyone back and healthy. Also, Prout had not played since October or so, so it was only fair to get him some playing time in the American League. Tonight, Jimmy Hayes, Ben Lovejoy and Drew Stafford were the healthy scratches.

In goal, Cory Schneider was making another start for the Devils. He has gotten back to being his usual workhorse self this season. He made 25 saves on 29 Sabres shots. Facing him was Robin Lehner who made 35 saves on the night on 38 Devils shots. The Devils saw Lehner in relief earlier in the season up in Buffalo in what was a rout in favor of New Jersey.

The Devils got the scoring kicked off 13:35 into the first period. Damon Severson broke into the Buffalo zone and gave it to Pavel Zacha. He dished to Stefan Noesen, who jammed it in on Lehner. Miles Wood was trailing and was relentless in the goal mouth scramble, continuing to chip away at the puck and finding it loose and putting it by Lehner to make it 1-0 Devils.

That lead would last until 5:27 into the second period when an old friend struck back at the Devils. Jacob Josefson scored his second of the season on a partial breakaway off an intercepted pass in the Sabres’ zone to tie things up at one. He got an assist from Jordan Nolan.

From there the Devils seemed to take control of the game. It began when Marcus Johansson scored at 8:34 on the power play. Zemgus Girgensons had gone off for holding setting that up and Johansson skated the puck into the Sabres’ zone. He gave to Jesper Bratt at the top of the far faceoff circle, who passed to Sami Vatanen at the point. Vatanen passed down to Nico Hischier at the near half wall. Hischier moved back and forth, drawing some pressure to him and then gave back to Vatanen at the point. He one-touched a pass to Johansson, who was lurking at the far faceoff dot. Johansson one-timed a shot by Lehner to give the Devils back the lead, 2-1.

That power play goal made the Devils 1-for-2 on the night. They had one shot on those two power plays. Buffalo was 1-for-3 with five shots.

The Devils would add to their lead 14:55 into the second period when John Moore struck for his fifth of the year. It happened when the puck was dumped into the Sabres’ zone and Nathan Beaulieu tried to wind the puck around the boards. It was cut off by Brian Gibbons, who gave to Moore at the near point. He fired and beat Lehner to make it 3-1 Devils.

From there, however, the wheels would begin to fall off for the Devils. It began, as it usually does, with a goal given up late in the period. Jack Eichel scored from Jake McCabe and Girgensons at the 18:05 mark of the second period. Eichel had redirected McCabe’s shot to make it 3-2 Devils. The Sabres would then tie things up at three when Eichel scored his second of the game 11:04 into the third period from Kyle Okposo and Rasmus Ristolainen. That goal came on the power play as Vatanen was sitting for slashing. Eichel would nearly notch the hat trick when he would hit the crossbar with less than two minutes left in the game.

Then the weird part of the game, as the Devils had seemingly retaken the lead at 7:42 of the third when Taylor Hall skated in and beat Lehner with a beautiful move. Sabres coach Phil Housley challenged the goal, claiming Hall was offsides when he entered the Sabres zone. They won, as the replay showed that Hall was essentially bobbling the puck in the air when he entered the zone, meaning he did not have full control of it. It was a nice play on Hall’s part, but was deemed no goal by the officials. The game was still tied up at three.

So, after all of that, time in regulation expired and we were headed off to overtime. It was Buffalo’s second straight OT game, having lost to the Islanders the other night. The OT period was amazing, with action going back-and-forth for about two and a half minutes until, at 2:37, Ristolainen found twine behind Cory off an assist to Ryan O’Reilly to make it a 4-3 final.

So, some stats on the night. Vatanen was the ice time leader, eating up 23:15. He also led the Devils in shots on goal with a whopping eight. Steven Santini led in hits with four, while Travis Zajac and Moore both led in blocks with two apiece. The Devils won only 39-percent of their faceoffs as a team.

Next up, tomorrow, a showdown with the Washington Capitals in Washington. The Devils actually still lead the Metro Division, having gained their 50th point tonight. The Caps will be a stiff test and something the Devils have not seen in a long time. That will also be the second half of a back-to-back (the Capitals did not play tonight, making things tougher for the Devils) and the final game for the Devils in the 2017 calendar year. We will see you then.

Devils Fall in New Jersey Half of Home-and-Home With Jackets

The Devils had a chance to put some distance between them and the Columbus Blue Jackets in first place in the Metropolitan Division with a win tonight. Unfortunately, despite a first period where they absolutely dominated, the Devils were unable to muster enough for a victory and fell on home ice 5-3 in the second half of a home-and-home series with the Jackets.

It was Star Wars Night at The Rock, with lots of Star Wars characters on hand and a lot of promotions related to the venerable movie franchise. All of the graphics on the scoreboard were Star Wars related, in addition (with the Devils playing the Rebel Alliance, the good guys naturally; while the Blue Jackets took on the role of the evil Galactic Empire).

The lineup was largely the same as Tuesday night in Columbus, with Ben Lovejoy, Dalton Prout and Pavel Zacha all healthy scratches. For Zacha, this is his second game as a scratch and it will be interesting to see how his story plays out going forward. Also, defenseman Sami Vatanen, who was acquired last week from the Ducks, was making his home ice debut as a Devil.

New Jersey came out like gangbusters in the first period – getting a few great scoring chances early – but did not break through until the 8:29 mark of the first when Brian Boyle scored to make it 1-0. That goal came when Jimmy Hayes dumped the puck into the Columbus zone and Miles Wood chased it, pushing it to a supporting Hayes, who was now behind the net. He centered with a nifty backhand pass to Boyle, who was cutting into the slot. Boyle shot, beating Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky glove side to give New Jersey the early lead.

The Devils would double that lead later on in the first when Marcus Johansson scored at 14:10. That came when Travis Zajac sealed off a Blue Jackets player, freeing up a loose puck for Stefan Noesen. Noesen spun around and shot just to the stick side of Bobrovsky’s goal cage. Johansson was there to pick up the puck and tucked it in on a nice wraparound goal to make it 2-0 Devils.

The Devils had played a near-perfect first period and had a two goal lead to show for it. Despite that, the shots on goal were tied after the first period at nine apiece. That was almost a harbinger of things to come.

Just 2:29 into the second period, Pierre-Luc Dubois scored from Artemi Panarin to get the Jackets on the board and cut the Devils’ lead in half, 2-1. At the 5:44 mark, Lukas Sedlak scored (also with an assist from Panarin) to tie things up at two. And, finally, Columbus’ turnaround was complete 14:13 into the second when Scott Harrington gave them the 3-2 lead (assists to Panarin and Boone Jenner). Things had seemingly gone off the rails for the Devils.

New Jersey would get one back to tie things up with about 20 seconds remaining in the second when Brian Gibbons dropped a puck back to Steven Santini at the far point. He fired a shot that acted more as a slap pass back to Gibbons. Gibbons fed Blake Coleman, who was sneaking through the slot and went back door on Bobrovsky to tie things up at three. The Devils had gotten a late goal, one with less than a minute left in a period. That should have been demoralizing for Columbus – in theory.

It was not, however, as the wheels completely fell off in the third period. It began just 1:32 in to the third frame when Alexander Wennberg scored a power play goal with assists to Panarin and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Andy Greene had taken a tripping penalty for tripping Dubois just 20 seconds into the period and the Devils paid for it. It was now 4-3 Blue Jackets.

But they would get a reprieve when Markus Hannikainen was assessed a four minute double minor for high sticking Nico Hischier at the 11:05 mark. The Devils did not convert and, in fact, ended up taking a too many men on the ice penalty with seconds left on their four minute power play.

Ultimately, the Devils were 0-for-4 on the power play with two shots on goal while the Jackets were 1-for-2 with three shots on goal.

Zach Werenski would put things away for the Jackets when he scored at the 15:02 mark of the third from Panarin and Seth Jones. Panarin had, remarkably, factored in on all five Blue Jacket goals, notching five assists on the night and taking first star honors for the night. Brian Boyle of the Devils was star number two while Alexander Wennberg from Columbus was star number three.

For the goaltenders, Bobrovsky saw 24 Devils shots nad stopped 21 of them and Cory Schneider, who was pulled with roughly one minute left in the game for the extra attacker, saw 28 Columbus shots and stopped 23 of them.

Sami Vatanen, in his Devils home debut, was the team’s time on ice leader with 26:04 while Taylor Hall led in shots on goal with four. Zajac led in hits with three on the night.

Next up, the Devils will have to regroup hard as they play tomorrow night in Manhattan against the rival New York Rangers. A rivalry game could be a blessing in disguise in that it could get you up and ready to play, or the pressure could be too much. Add to that that the Rangers lost tonight to Washington and they will also be trying to bounce back. We will have it here for you as the Hudson River Rivalry is renewed tomorrow night.

Hischier Scores First Two Goals of NHL Career; Devils Prevail in OT

The Devils are hot right now, there is no doubt about that. They came into Canadian Tire Centre to take on the Ottawa Senators with a 4-1-0 record off of a big shootout win against the Lightning. How would they fare against a more defensive-minded Guy Boucher team? Win 5-4 in overtime after coming back from being two goals down is the answer to that, apparently.

The Sens are off to a hot start themselves, with only one regulation loss to their credit so far this year going into tonight. But New Jersey would be up for that challenge and would find the win column the hard way.

Some roster changes as Dalton Prout was back in on defense while Mirco Mueller and Ben Lovejoy sat. Up front, Stefan Noesen slotted in for Jimmy Hayes was out. Cory Schneider would start the game with the idea that Keith Kinkaid would go tomorrow against the San Jose Sharks, although Kinkaid would end up coming in in the third period and finishing the game as Cory left with a lower body injury.

Cory would start the game with a nice save on a Sens’ breakaway to get the ball rolling. The first goal of the game was cause to celebrate. Nico Hischier potted his first NHL goal just 2:30 into the game. It came when Taylor Hall got the puck in the far corner and cycled it to Drew Stafford. Stafford could not find anything on Senators’ goalie Craig Anderson’s glove side. He skated the puck behind the net and made a nice pass to Hischier, who was camped out in front of the net and buried it to make it 1-0 Devils. Congratulations to Nico on his first NHL goal.

Prout was whistled for roughing 21 seconds after the Hischier goal, resulting in an Ottawa power play that they would convert on. Kyle Turris scored from Erik Karlsson and Zack Smith to tie it up six seconds into the man advantage to tie things at one. For the night, Ottawa was 2-for-6 on the power play while the Devils were 0-for-4.

It took Nico Hischier five games into his career to get his first NHL goal, but would only take him another 1:51 to get his second. At 4:21, Pavel Zacha won an offensive zone draw back to John Moore, who slap passed the puck to Hall behind the Senators’ net. Hall tried to stuff it short side and Hischier was able to chip in the loose puck in the crease. Boucher and the Sens would challenge for goaltender interference, saying that Hischier bumped into Anderson, but the call on the ice was confirmed and it was a good goal. The Devils took the 2-1 lead and Nico had his first two goals of his career. He and Hall were the first of several Devils with multi-point nights – also including Moore and Kyle Palmieri.

But the second period would not be kind to the Devils. Ottawa would score three unanswered goals and their number one goaltender would go down with an injury.

Derick Brassard tied things up for the Sens at 5:07 of the second from Bobby Ryan and Karlsson. His goal came right after a Devils scoring chance at the other end of the rink as the Devils were about to be whisted on a delayed penalty. After that, Alex Burrows scored on the power play while Damon Severson was sitting for interference. His goal came at 7:15 from Karlsson and Mike Hoffman. That gave Ottawa the 3-2 lead. Tom Pyatt would make it 4-2 at 15:49 when his shot snuck in between the post and Schneider’s leg. JG Pageau had the lone assist on that one.

Coming out for the third period, the Devils were trailing and Keith Kinkaid was suddenly between the pipes. Cory had gone down with the aforementioned lower body injury and Kinkaid would see some action a night prior to his scheduled start tomorrow against San Jose.

The Devils would cut the Sens’ lead to one goal just 4:03 into the third period when Taylor Hall took a hit just inside the Ottawa blueline and the loose puck came to Palmieri. Palmieri grabbed it and made a nice move, roofing the puck over Anderson to cut the score to 4-3. It was a great play all around, with Hall sacrificing himself to make the play and Palmieri finishing it.

The Devils were not done there, however. Marcus Johansson tied things at four at the 15:05 mark of the third when Johansson cycled the puck behind the net to Palmieri. Palmieri was strong on the boards, winning the battle to get the puck in front to Johansson, who chipped it by Anderson to knot things up. Again, another great play as Palmieri really battled behind the net for the loose puck, winning that battle and getting the puck to Johansson who finished. Severson also made a nice play to keep the puck in the Senators’ zone.

The Devils had clawed and scratched their way back into the game and Kinkaid kept it that way with a late period save on Bobby Ryan to keep things tied up.

With regulation expiring, New Jersey had secured at least a point and were headed to overtime for the second straight game. And this one ended in the Devils’ favor.

Just 1:20 into the bonus period, Hall found Moore cutting through the neutral zone. Moore then turned on the jets, coming up the wing with Nico Hischier and electing to shoot, beating Anderson to give the Devils the win. Moore now has the most 3-on-3 overtime goals by a defenseman since that format for OT began. Hischier and Hall had the assists on the goal, meaning that Hischier finished with two goals and an assist, Hall had four assists, Moore had a goal and an assist and Kyle Palmieri had a goal and an assist. Not a bad night’s work for the Devils overall.

Goaltending-wise, Schneider made 20 saves on 24 Ottawa shots while Kinkaid stopped all nine he saw. The Senators had a game total of 33 shots. Anderson made 41 saves on 46 Devils shots. The Devils had eight shots on the power play for the night. Ottawa mustered up six, but, as noted, had two goals with the extra attacker.

So with that win, the Devils move to 6-1-0 as they get set to take on the San Jose Sharks tomorrow in the second half of a back-to-back at Prudential Center. As of now, they are sitting atop the Metropolitan Division all alone, with Columbus’ loss to Tampa tonight. Pete DeBoer’s team has been struggling of late. We will find out if the Devils can continue their hot streak tomorrow night.

How Swede it is: Johansson and Bratt Each Net Three Points in Devils Win

The Devils came into Buffalo for their first road game of the 2017-18 season after knocking off the Avalanche 4-1 for their first win on Saturday. That was in front of a raucous home crowd sellout. This would be in front of a hostile Sabres crowd in a 3 PM Columbus Day matinee.

And the Devils were ready. Some injury news as Kyle Palmieri and Drew Stafford are each day-to-day with lower body injuries, but did make the road trip, so they could be back as soon as Wednesday in Toronto. Dalton Prout was a healthy scratch and Ben Lovejoy and Miles Wood both slotted back in as New Jersey went with eleven forwards and seven defensemen for the afternoon. Nico Hischier got the military jacket after the Colorado game, being named as a player who came to the aid of his teammates. This is a new tradition in the Devils’ locker room, borne out of their trip to West Point during training camp.

Getting to the highlights, as there were a lot of them in a 6-2 Devils win, Sefan Noesen scored the first goal of the game at the 6:28 mark of the first period when Noesen threw the puck in front of the net. In the scramble that ensued, Brian Gibbons chipped the puck back in front from the side of the goal mouth and it deflected in off of Noesen’s face shield, giving him credit for the goal. Off that unusual play, Noesen had his first of the year while the Devils had the 1-0 lead.

Gibbons would play a role in the second goal of the game too, one which would see the Devils go into the first break leading 2-0. On that one, Hischier skated behind the Sabres’ net, reversing course on Buffalo defenseman Marco Scandella. He threw the puck back in front where Gibbons shoveled it home for the 2-0 lead. Marcus Johansson had the secondary assist, his first of three points on the night. That one came at the 18:56 mark of the first period. The assist was Nico’s first career NHL point and it was a crucial one. Congratulations to him.

The second period began with Evander Kane scoring his first of two on the day for Buffalo on the power play at 5:02, sole assist to Rasmus Ristolainen. Kane had a good game for the Sabres, as he seemed to be the only beating heart that they had all afternoon. The Devils lead was cut in half, 2-1.

That goal was scored while the Devils were serving a bench minor for a faceoff violation. During that penalty, which was wiped out when Kane scored, Steven Santini took a slashing penalty on the goal, which would put the Devils right back on the penalty kill.

But the Devils would respond shorthanded, at 5:23 of the period when Jesper Bratt scored. It was set up when Adam Henrique burst into the Buffalo zone with Bratt on a two-on-one. Henrique dished to Bratt, who calmly took the puck on his forehand and slid it to his backhand, beating goaltender Chad Johnson to make it 3-1 Devils. Mirco Mueller had the secondary assist on that goal. That would open the flood gates for New Jersey. Buffalo gave up four shorthanded goals all last season. This was their fourth given up in three games this year alone.

At 7:49 of the second, Johansson would make it 4-1 when the Devils won a faceoff deep in their zone. The puck was chipped ahead and Taylor Hall, who was a disruptive force on the forecheck all afternoon, stole the puck in the Buffalo zone and made a backhanded pass to Johansson, who would calmly knock it by Johnson on his backhand. It was an impressive goal and showed how tenacious Hall can be.

Bratt would strike with his second goal of the game to make it 5-1 at 12:19 when Andy Greene would keep the puck in the Buffalo zone and pass cross-ice to Hall. Hall wound up like he was going to shoot, but saw Bratt streaking in through the slot. He passed to Bratt, who redirected it by Johnson. The Devils were rolling.

Johansson, a known Sabre-killer when he was with Washington, would finish up the Devils’ offensive onslaught at 18:56 of the second when he and Bratt broke in on a two-on-one. Bratt threaded the needle under Nathan Beaulieu’s stick and Johansson buried it to make it 6-1. That was Johansson’s second goal of the game and both he and Bratt’s third points of the night.

The third period saw Chad Johnson replaced in the Buffalo net by Robin Lehner. Johnson made 16 saves on 22 shots while Lehner was a perfect 9-for-9. The Devils had a total of 31 shots on goal. Cory Schneider made 23 saves on 25 Sabres’ shots.

That last goal came off the stick of Evander Kane, his second of the game, at 17:03 of the third period from Jason Pominville. That made the final 6-2. Kane would end up with the most shots on goal of any player in the game with seven. Gibbons (five) and Coleman (four) led New Jersey in shots on goal.

With Kane’s first goal, Buffalo went 1-for-4 on the power play while the Devils – whose power play was clicking versus Colorado on Saturday – went 0-for-4.

One other event of note in the game was the scrap between Beaulieu and Miles Wood in the second period (at 12:07). Wood was chomping at the bit to get back in the lineup and it showed.

So, with their first road win out of the way, the Devils continue their road trip in Toronto on Wednesday to take on the Maple Leafs. The Leafs are a young, fast, dynamic team and will pose a real test to the Devils. We will find out Wednesday if New Jersey has what it takes to skate with one of the more elite teams in the Eastern Conference.

Devils Blow Out Sens; Shut Out by Isles

It was a tale of two games for the Devils tonight. They played two split-squad games, one at Summerside, Prince Edward Island in the Kraft Hockeyville Canada game against the Ottawa Senators and one that started an hour later at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York against the New York Islanders. They came away 1-1 on the night, beating the Senators 8-1 and losing to the Islanders, 3-0.

Now, obviously, the Devils had their “A” team playing at the Credit Union Place in PEI while the “JV,” so to speak, was playing down the North American coast in Brooklyn. But both games showed some very interesting things for fans to take in and digest.

Full disclosure: I did not get to see the game in Canada due to it being blacked out regionally down here on the NHL Network. I am again going by what I could scrounge up from the Internet. I did get to see the Islander game, as it was televised locally on MSG+, however.

Let’s start with the good news, shall we? The Devils defeated the Sens, 8-1 after jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first period. According to Amanda Stein on the Devils’ website in her “10 Takeaways” column, Marcus Johansson scored “less than two minutes into the game.” She also said that Johansson had four points on the night, as he also had three assists.

Drew Stafford, Pavel Zacha and John Quenneville each had two goals for John Hynes’ squad while Nico Hischier also added one to give the Devils the boost. The Devils had a 7-0 lead when Mike Condon was relieved in goal by Andrew Hammond (a preseason thing, he was not chased, apparently).

Speaking of the goaltenders, Cory Schneider played the whole game and made 20 saves on 21 shots faced.

Meanwhile, in New York….

Geoff Ward was coaching the Devils’ “B” team and things did not go as smoothly against the Islanders. They fell 3-0, falling into some penalty trouble and being smothered in the shots on goal department.

Keith Kinkaid, the Long Island-native, made the start and played the entire game for New Jersey. He made 42 saves on 44 shots against. With an empty net goal, the Islanders would finish with 45 shots on goal. For New York, Thomas Greiss started and also played the whole game. He made 25 saves in the Islanders’ shut out win.

The Islanders took the early lead just 1:11 into the game when Brock Nelson scored from Josh Ho-Sang and Johnny Boychuk. Just that suddenly, it was 1-0 Isles and that was all they needed.

At the 12:02 mark of the first, the Devils’ Ben Thomson took on the Islanders’ Scott Mayfield in a good scrap that brought some energy to the game.

Then, at the 13:54 mark of the first, Joseph Blandisi was called for slashing, a not uncommon sight in this preseason with the crackdown on slashing, and the Islanders went on the power play. Mathew Barzal would score a nice goal, using his speed to slice through the Devils defense and making a good move around Kinkaid to give the Isles a 2-0 lead. John Tavares had the lone assist on the goal. That goal made New York 1-for-6 on the power play while the Devils finished the night 0-for-1.

Late in the first period, a scary moment occurred when Michael McLeod of the Devils was helped off of the ice with an apparent leg injury. He was favoring his left leg and would not return.

The Devils’ best period was the second when they actually outshot New York and really tested Greiss. They missed on a 3-on-1 late in the period and he stopped Jimmy Hayes on a nice chance late in the period too.

The Devils would pull Kinkaid with a little over a minute left in the game and Johnny Boychuk would score the empty netter from Nikolay Kulemin and Cal Clutterbuck to put the game away at 18:41.

In the end, the Devils were outshot 45 to 25 and lost 52-percent of their faceoffs. But those were the only places where the Devils were outplayed on the stat sheet. They out hit the Islanders, 29 to 24, had 15 blocked shots to 13 for New York and only gave away the puck four times to the Isles’ 11.

In the end, despite losing in Brooklyn (and getting blanked to boot), the Devils outscored their opponents on the night, 8-4, which is a good sign for the big squad and gives Devils fans some optimism as they head into the season. They just may have opened some eyes in Canada.

Next up, the Devils head south to Washington on Wednesday for their final game of the preseason. That game will be televised on MSG+ and we will have a recap here for you.

Devils Obtain Johansson for Picks

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 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.