Marcus Johansson felt like a free agent signing that could take a while and to a point, it did. However, he easily could have gone into the second week, fielded more offers, and then came to a decision. In the end, he signed on Saturday with the Buffalo Sabres on a UFA bridge deal of sorts (two years, $4.5 million AAV).
Let’s take a look at that and ponder a few questions too.
What Marcus Johansson means to the Buffalo Sabres
Johansson plays the wing a little different. The forward looks for the optimal play to be made as opposed to playing safe. This carries inherent risk but also reward as well. He shoots the puck on the net less than two times per game. On the other hand, Marcus Johansson creates chances most players cannot.
His versatility for the Devils, Capitals, and Bruins were well documented. He played on all three top lines and could play any forward position — yes, even center. Johansson saw how one of the best power-plays worked in Boston so some of that knowledge may be beneficial in Buffalo. Buffalo’s ideal scenario would be to see the forward score around 20 points on the man advantage.
One has to go back all the way to the 2016-17 season for the last time he topped 15 points on the man advantage. The bright side is that Johansson stayed healthy for the most part through a long playoff run. His health will be a key component in how he fares with the Sabres.
Johansson needs to be the conduit on Buffalo’s top power play. He may see line time with Jack Eichel. Projections are a little premature but it is something plausible given what the Swedish winger did in Washington.
Furthermore, at even strength, it appears Marcus Johansson will be slotted into the second-line role and get more ice time (maybe 17 minutes plus). Projections suggest Conor Sheary and Casey Mittlestadt for now. Those could change.
Salary breakdown of Marcus Johansson contract
Below, are the details of the new Johansson deal with Buffalo. Now, this comes with added information thanks to PuckPedia.
The #LetsgoBuffalo Sabres sign 28 y/o LW Marcus Johansson to 2 year $4.5M Cap Hit Deal.
Yr 1: $5M Salary
Yr 2: $4M Salary
10 Team No Trade List
13G 30P in 58 GP
Johansson is rep'd by JP Barry of CAAhttps://t.co/mu5pP5VQ3i
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) July 6, 2019
A little numerology with Marcus Johansson
Johansson presents an interesting case as he looks for opportunity and quality. Sometimes he can be too patient which results in the potential for injury. He missed 77 games over the past two seasons with mostly concussion-related issues.
The concern illustrated is significant enough that Johansson signed with no real overpay in the free-agent market.
Marcus Johansson draws a decent amount of penalties and though his 5-on-5 play has improved a little, it is his work on the man advantage that is more impressive. Relative possession to the team is slightly below average but goals and secondary assists are above average.
The 2016-17 version of Johansson was what Boston fans got to see in the playoffs and New Jersey fans did before he was traded. That will be vital in Buffalo. What did that version of Johansson look like?
The Marcus Johansson seen three years ago was a player primarily used in offensive zone situations who could draw penalties quite well. Also, he could force the issue on the power-play and at even strength. His possession metrics fared well because of his suppression abilities.
Again, health will play a role in the soon to be 29-year old’s play. Buffalo has the playmaker it needs on the man advantage and even strength. This is important for depth purposes. The Sabres will not be quite so one-line dependent now.