As the 2011-12 season has come to a close, the time has come to evaluate what it meant for the Capitals, both as a team and as individuals. As such, as the summer progresses, I will be writing a report card, or individual evaluation, for each player who played in 9 (~10%) of the team’s games, or 4 playoff games. Next up is center Marcus Johansson, who finished his second NHL season and second with the Capitals on this past campaign.
Season Summary: In his second professional season, Johansson was able to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump,” increasing his point total by 21. His year got off to a sour start – a bad camp led to him being scratched on opening night – but once he got in the lineup, he produced at a steady offensive pace. All told, the Swedish pivot played in 80 games, totaling 14 goals, 32 assists, a minus-five rating, and eight penalty minutes. Despite these solid offensive totals, however, Johansson was terrible at possessing the puck, earning the second-worst even strength corsi rating among forwards at -8.09 while facing middle of the pack competition. Grade: B-
Role Play: After another offseason in which George McPhee failed to address the hole at second line center, Johansson did the best that he could as a 21 year-old in his second pro season, but wasn’t what the Caps needed out of that slot. However, I don’t think it’s fair to slam the JoJo for his inability to do so – because the expectation that he would be able to was unrealistic from the beginning. Johansson also moved around to wing under Dale Hunter, both playing on the side and in the middle, and looked better as a winger at times, filling that role rather well. His point totals were not bad for his salary, either. For a player of his size and experience, I think 48 points is more than acceptable – it’s not his fault that he’s been forced into incredibly tough situations. It seems that all people will remember about Johansson is things he was not able to do, but that’s not fair. He was solid for a 21 year old, and he will get better. Grade: B
Playoffs: Johansson’s playoffs were a tale of two series. Against Boston, he had all three of his playoff points and was visibly one of the best players on the ice for the Capitals. Against New York, he was downright terrible, missing a lot of chances, overpassing, and being held pointless. Again, these kinds of ups and downs are to be expected from young players, but it was still disappointing to see such a sharp decline from one series to the next. Overall, Johansson had one goal, two assists, a minus-six rating, and zero PIMs in his 14 playoff contests. He also continued to struggle with a -21.96 corsi rating, tenth-best on the team among forwards, which was again done against middle of the pack competition. Grade: C+
Futre Potential: Signed for one more year at a cap hit of less than $1 million before reaching restricted free agency, Johansson is a good young player who the Caps and their fans should be happy to have. Johansson is still developing, and though he will never score 100, or even 90, points in a season, he could possibly crack 80 at one point. That, coupled with his speed, playmaking, and solid two-way ability make him a good player on any team. However, should the Caps elect to bring in a center for the second line, that would press Johansson’s role into a bit of limbo, as Brooks Laich has the third line center spot on lock in my book. That could mean a more permanent move to wing for JoJo, which wouldn’t be terrible, but I kind of want to see what he can offer as a center. Grade: B+
The next report card will feature defenseman Dennis Wideman.
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