Marcus Johansson, Capitals Settle on 3-Year Deal

The Washington Capitals and winger Marcus Johansson found common ground before their scheduled arbitration hearing this morning at 9:00 a.m.

The Farjestads BK Karlstad graduate’s new contract is just over an $800,000 raise from the previous bridge deal he was awarded in an arbitration hearing last July 31st. He was reportedly asking for a substantial raise in talks again this time around, requesting $5.25 million per season before coming to terms at a $4.6 million AAV for the next three campaigns.

Johansson will be entering his age-26 season growing into a very versatile winger for head coach Barry Trotz‘s club. In 2015-16 he finished with another impressive season totaling 17 goals and 46 points in 74 games to finish sixth in scoring on a deep Capitals team that placed second in goals for (248) and goals against (191). It was the Landskrona, Sweden native’s fourth 82-game season in a row with 44+ points, logging 16:38 per game spending his minutes mostly on the second line playing with Nicklas Backstrom centering. He was known as a clutch performer in the regular season, scoring seven game winners to finish second on the Caps and tie for fourth in the NHL.

The Capitals, however, could not get past the second round yet again, losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Johansson had his best playoff performance since 2011 (two goals, seven points in 12 games), but it was all for naught. He is not a noted playoff performer in his career, as in the last 35 postseason games before 2016 he totaled just three goals and nine points with one game winner in that span.

A regular suspect on the first power play unit (4th on team in PP TOI-202:38), he chipped in with six goals and 14 points on the 5th-best power play in the League (22%). Johansson did have his CF% drop 3% from his 20-goal 2014-15 to 50.1%, but that’s right around his career high of 49.1%.

Johansson still has room to grow into a winger that could be an even bigger contributor playing with one of two elite playmaking centers in Evgeny Kuznetsov and Backstrom. The latter is signed for the next four seasons and former will be in the same position Johansson was this offseason at the same age looking for a new contract. Johansson is just one piece of a generally young core in a top six group that will soon have just two players 30 and older, Alex Ovechkin (31 in September) and T.J. Oshie (30 in December).

Going forward, the Capitals still have defenseman Dmitry Orlov to sign. The club did not elect arbitration for the 24-year old, and have almost $3.5 million in cap space to strike a deal. Outside of that, the pieces are in place for another Cup-worthy roster. Next summer, General Manager Brian MacLellan will have more responsibilities, as Oshie, Daniel Winnik, and Justin Williams will be UFAs and Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky will be RFAs.

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