The Washington Capitals announced today that they traded forward Marcus Johansson to the New Jersey Devils for 2018 second and third round picks. Johansson is a former first round pick; the Capitals selected him 24th overall in the 2009 entry-level draft and Johansson has played his entire NHL career with the team. The Swedish forward is 6′ 1″ 204 pounds.
The reasoning behind the trade makes sense for both teams: Washington still has to re-sign four restricted free agents, namely Andre Burakovsky and Philipp Grubauer, and they don’t have cap space, while New Jersey could really use a top-six forward, especially someone who can play wing. The trade makes sense, as much as it sucks for Caps fans (I’m sorry).
I just have to start out by saying that I love this trade for the Devils and I’m thrilled to have Johansson on the team. I’ll break down my reasoning with a few points:
- His offense: he has 290 career points in 501 games (seven seasons) and has just 22 penalty minutes; those 290 points consist of 102 goals and 188 assists. Last season, he had 58 points in 82 games; he’s played a full season twice in his career. He averaged 0.70 points per game, had just 10 penalty minutes, and scored 19 power play points. He outscored every single Devils player last season (Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri led the team with 53 points apiece). He also had eight points in 13 playoff games and has been one of Washington’s most consistent players. He’s had more than 40 points in all but two seasons (his full NHL stats). Johansson is easily a Top-6 forward on the Devils and can help contribute offensively.
- His versatility: Johansson is perfectly capable of playing center, left wing, or right wing. The Devils don’t need more centers so ideally, Johansson would play wing. Right wing would be preferable to left but let’s see who he has chemistry with first. He’ll probably provide some stability on the second line.
- His age: Johansson is only 26; he’ll turn 27 in October. He’s not young but he’s not old either; he’s experienced. He’s young enough. The Devils don’t need any more veterans.
- His cap hit: his contract is a little tricky but the Devils have cap space and the Capitals don’t. New Jersey had the most cap space in the NHL coming into free agency yesterday but even with the additions of Johansson, Brian Boyle, and a few others, they still have about $20 million in cap space. Johansson signed a three-year, $13,750,000 contract last summer with the Caps and his cap hit is about $4.5 million, according to CapFriendly. He does have a modified no-trade clause in place for the remaining two years of his contract.
- The trade pieces: both picks are not New Jersey’s original ones; the second round pick was acquired in the Marc Savard trade with Florida (the Panthers received Graham Black and Paul Thompson) and the third round pick was received from Toronto when they signed former Devils GM Lou Lamoriello. So the Devils really didn’t give up much to acquire Johansson and they still have their seven original picks for next year’s draft.
- His personality: Johansson is a great guy, has a great personality, and his nickname is MoJo. What’s not to like about him?
This trade sucks for Capitals fans, and I’m sorry that you have to see him go and that he won’t be a part of the team’s success in the future. He’s spent his entire career with the team and I know how much he means to you but I promise you that we’ll treat him right. He’s in good hands.