Washington Capitals Prospect Review: Lucas Johansen

With the offseason now kicking into high gear we continue breaking-down the last 12 months for each of the Washington Capitals prospects and provide a forecast for each of the players for the coming season. We continue the series with a review and forecast for Lucas Johansen. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.) 

CONTRACT
Johansen (20), signed a three-year entry deal on March 2nd, 2017, at $925,000 AAV. He will be a restricted free agent on July 1, 2021. Johansen will be waivers-exempt for the coming season.

CAREER
Lucas Johansen had pretty good offensive numbers for his second year with the Kelowna Rockets. At just 18 years of age, Johansen notched 10 goals and 39 assists for 49 points in 69 games during the 2015-2016 season.

Johansen tallied six goals, 35 assists for 41 points in 68 games with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL in 2016-17. That was good enough for second among Rockets defensemen in points, goals, and assists.

Johansen moved to the Hershey Bears for the 2017-2018 season. After a slow start offensively, Johansen began to show signs of his scoring abilities during the latter half of the season. Defensively, it’s difficult to capture Johansen’s overall progress last season, considering the blueline issues with the Bears.

Unfortunately Johansen missed time at this year’s development camp, dealing with a minor injury.

2017-2018 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Lucas Johansen during the 2017-2018 season.

October
Johansen is being thrown into the deep end without any floaters down in Hershey. He is the youngest player on the Hershey Bears and as a rookie is starting on the top pair. That says a lot about what head coach Troy Mann thinks of him. In just eight games, he has one goal and three assists. Considering he’s playing against other teams’ top players who are much older and holding his own is very impressive. Of all the Capitals’ defensive prospects, Johansen has the highest ceiling, and so far, so good for him.

Trending: Same

November
Johansen’s rookie season continues to go swimmingly. As a 19-year old, he leads the Bears’ defensemen with 12 points in 20 games played. That’s not only good for third on the whole team, but third among all rookie defensemen in the AHL! One has to think if the Capitals get some breathing room in the standings at the end of the season, he’ll get a look.

Trending: Up

December
Lucas Johansen continues to have a pretty good rookie season. The Defenseman tallied two goals and an assist in the month of December. Johansen now has five goals and 10 assists in 34 games this season, and remains the leader in points among all Bears defensemen. He is fifth overall on the team in points. One stat to keep an eye on is his shooting percentage, which is currently at 12.8%, the highest on the team by almost four percentage points. He is second on the team in total shots. If his development continues at this pace, it’s not unthinkable that Johansen will be ready to challenge for a roster spot next fall.

Trending: Up

January
The first professional season for Lucas Johansen has been a bit of a rollercoaster. After a rough first four games of the season, Johansen settled in and his offense took off. He had eight points in his next eight games. Then, he netted goals in back-to-back games, both against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, on December 8 and 9. However, his offense has dried up since then. Johansen has not scored a goal in his last 19 games and only has two assists in that span. His defense took a step back in mid-December, but Johansen’s defensive play has steadied since being paired with Tyler Lewington in recent weeks. Still, the Bears need Johansen to find his offensive game. During their eight-game losing streak, Hershey has zero goals from defensemen. That is not enough on a team that is offensively-challenged. As the team’s leading scorer on the back-end with five goals and 11 assists, the Bears need more production from Johansen.

Trending: Same

February
Johansen’s offense has all but disappeared. He has five points in 2018 and eight points since the start of December. He has not scored a goal since December 9. Johansen has four assists in February, which is an improvement from his one point in January. On the positive side, two of those assists have come in his last four games. On the other end of the ice, Johansen has improved his defensive play as of late. He is a +4 in his last five games after being a -4 the prior four. He and Colby Williams have played well together. Still, the Bears need more offense from Johansen. On a team that has struggled to score much of the season, Hershey needs more offense from the defensemen. Johansen showed signs of that early in the season, but has been unable to sustain it.

Trending: Same

March
After going 30 games without a goal, Johansen finally netted a goal in the first period at Lehigh Valley on March 2. He also added an assist in the same game. Since then, he has gone 10 games without a goal and has four assists in that time. He has six points in total in March. While that is two more points than he had in February, it still is not enough from a player who is as offensively-skilled as Johansen. With their offensive struggles, the Bears need more offense from defensemen like Johansen. Yes, that is a lot to put on a young player, but it is the state of the Hershey Bears this season. Johansen is a gifted player. He needs to find more consistency in his offensive game. Defensively, Johansen has improved. He is a plus-4 for March and has improved his decision-making process in his own end. His positioning has also improved. Earlier in the season, he would wander from his defensive position and leave a player open. As the season as gone on, Johansen has done that less and less. He has learned from his earlier mistakes.

Trending: Same

HIGHLIGHTS

PLAYER FORECAST
There is no question that the Capitals see Johansen as an offensive defensemen, somewhat similar to a Mike Green or even a John Carlson-type. He will return to Hershey this fall where he will continue working on his scoring and power play game. He will also look to work on his defensive game with a revamped Bears blue line.

The master plan for Johansen is to have him ready for a good shot at the Capitals lineup no later that the start of the 2019-2020 season. There is a longshot chance he could make the Capitals squad sometime this season, depending on his growth and improvement this summer and during the first half of the season with the Bears, and overall health of the Capitals blueline.

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By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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