In June, Lucas Johansen was in Nashville with his injured brother Ryan Johansen watching the Nashville Predators take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final. “He unfortunately got injured right when I got to Nashville. It’s a pretty big stage.”
Fast forward to now, when he’s in his second training camp with the Capitals and will make his preseason debut tonight at the New Jersey Devils. The Capitals are looking for their defensive prospects to step up from the losses of Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner, and Kevin Shattenkirk. Johansen is in line for a look and will get a chance tonight in New Jersey.
“I feel more comfortable. Last year, it was more about getting my feet wet, and it was my first time in the Capital One Center and just trying to take it all in and now you want to show your stuff and get the win, so you’re definitely more focused on hockey.,” Johansen said.
Tonight, the 2016 First Round pick will be pairing with stud defenseman Taylor Chorney. “We played together last year so maybe a bit of chemistry. He’s a great player and great communicator. He’s really fun to play with.,” Johansen said of Chorney.
“I felt like I made a lot of improvements in my defense.,” Johansen said of improvements during the offseason. Despite what he said, he finished as a +23 last season in 68 games with the Kelowna Rockets this year.
Johansen will need to play extremely well in training camp and preseason if he hopes to get a spot on the Capitals. He has to battle a very talented group of defensive prospects including Madison Bowey, Connor Hobbs, and Christian Djoos, who by the way is waiver exempt this year, and he will almost certainly be on the team.
Last year in Kelowna, Johansen had 6 goals and 41 points in 68 games for the team. To make the team, Johansen must make himself stand out, especially tonight. Tonight, the Capitals are only dressing John Carlson and Taylor Chorney from the regular roster. That means that Johansen will have to be better than Djoos, Tyler Lewington, and Aaron Ness. Johansen has the potential to make the team, but with the competition on the blue line and with his weight at only 179 pounds, he will have to compete harder than everyone else on the blue line to earn an opening night spot.
By Harrison Brown