After playing out a one-year, arbitration-awarded contract last season, Marcus Johansson signed a new three-year deal this summer to keep him in a Caps sweater for the foreseeable future. And after coming through in the clutch in yesterday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, he’s proving he’s worth it.
Starting off the season as arguably, the Caps’ best producer, Johansson currently has 11 goals and seven assists for 18 points in 24 games played. This would put him on pace for a career-high 38 goals, 24 assists, and 62 points, a number that far exceeds his current career-high of 47 points.
While his production has been impressive, Johansson’s all-around play has vastly improved. In the past, Johansson was, at times, considered a soft player due to his lack of physicality in the corners and unwillingness to be physical in general. This year, he’s become harder to push off the puck and is usually one of the hardest-working Capitals when fighting for pucks in the trenches. He’s become a much better possession player as well. He’s posted a 54.0 Corsi rating this season, a huge jump from his career rating of 49.3, and the Caps start in the offensive zone 59% of the time when he’s on the ice.
If Johansson can continue his consistent and reliable play, the Caps will have the player many expected him to be ever since he entered the NHL. And at $4.25 million a season, that’s a good thing for all involved.
By Michael Fleetwood