When Marcus Johansson played his first NHL season in 2010-11, he showed potential to become a dynamic force in the Capitals’ nightly lineup. Having just completed his fifth NHL campaign with career-highs in both goals and points, you would assume he’s already been locked up by the Caps…..no. Mojo is a very good player who simply has not had a true breakout year like many expected him to have. His speed, puck-handling, and passing are some of his biggest strengths. But Johansson is not the most physical of players and he passes the puck excessively at times. The Capitals, it should be noted, offered him the same qualifying offer they handed him two years ago on his expired deal. According to CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley, Johansson could end up with a cap hit near $3.5M. That, in all honesty, is not what Mojo is worth.
To be fair, Johansson has established himself as a hard-working, determined player who has been a big player at times for the Capitals. But if the Caps are going to fill the void left by third-line center Eric Fehr, they will need ample cap room to sign a player if they decide to go that route. If they truly are done with free agents, the trade market will be their only outside option. Teams will surely be eager to acquire Johansson if he is shopped; especially teams in a rebuild. Johansson could probably be dealt to teams like Buffalo or Toronto, two teams who are in the process of a rebuild. Johansson is only 24-years old and could get the Caps a third-line center, plus draft picks. But even if Brian MacLellan does trade Johansson, what the Caps ask in return could be rebuffed at by other teams. The reason? Johansson’s streaky production throughout the past few years. While he did find the back of the net 20 times in 2014-15, Johansson also went through streaks where he just didn’t find the back of the net. For example, in the team’s first 15 games, Johansson scored eight times. In the next 15 games, Johansson had just one goal. Johansson is a great passer, but if he shot the puck more he could even more productive.
If Johansson is traded, the Caps will need to replace him; which won’t be that easy. But MacLellan has shown he is willing to trade players if it helps the Caps get closer to winning a Stanley Cup (i.e Brouwer). But Johansson simply isn’t worth what he believes he is. A $3.5M cap hit for what some may call an underachiever is debatable. But in my view, if it’s not a clear “yes” or “no”, the Caps should explore trading the man known as “Mojo”.
By Michael Fleetwood