The Toronto Maple Leafs will have some young guns getting an extended look in the NHL this year.
With training camp now underway, the excitement of a brand new NHL season is quickly building by the minute. No doubt, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a lot of intriguing storylines to follow with the pre-season looming.
Obviously, the biggest stories are currently John Tavares’ arrival and what he can do with the Buds, and when William Nylander will (eventually) sign his contract. Andreas Johnsson is one player that is somewhat flying under the radar whose story should be intriguing to Leafs fans.
The former 2013 7th round pick appears likely to find a spot in the Leafs lineup out of camp and is out to prove he deserves a larger contract than what he got this summer.
So realistically, what can we expect from Johnsson this season? Let’s take a look.
What has he done so far?
Last season was a strong year for Johnsson in the AHL and his stats show why. In just 54 games played, he posted an absurd 26 goals, 28 assists, and 54 points according to hockeyDB.com. Had he played a full AHL season, he may very well have won the scoring title.
In mid-March 2018, Johnsson was called up to the Leafs and made the most of his opportunity. Over 9 games, he recorded 2 goals and an assist, while registering an incredible 61.3% Corsi-for in all situations.
Following a decent showing with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs (2 points in 6 games), Johnsson took his game to even greater heights with the Marlies in their Calder Cup run. In only 16 games, he scored 10 goals, 14 assists, and a league-leading 24 points as per AHL.com, good enough to win him the 2018 Calder Cup MVP.
Based on these numbers, Johnsson proved last season he is more than ready to make the permanent jump to the NHL.
What is he getting into?
When the 2018-19 season gets underway, Johnsson will likely find himself slotted on the third-line, though the Leafs are deep on the wing and, realistically, he could find himself just about anywhere in the lineup.
In his limited showing with the Leafs last year, Johnsson got playing time on both the power-play and penalty kill. With James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, and Leo Komarov departing in free agency, this should give Johnsson a chance to get a full-time spot on both units, which he could thrive in.
This season should present Johnsson with every chance to show his upside. Based on his track record thus far and who he’d likely be playing with, it’s certainly possible he will have success.
What can he do in 2018-19?
Seeing a player like Johnsson make it to the NHL is always an inspiring story and this season highlights a lot of possibilities for the 23-year-old. Heading into this season on a one-year $750,000 contract , he is betting on himself to do great things.
It’s worth noting that Johnsson won the SHL Rookie of the Year in 2014. Past winners of this award as shown by Elite Prospect include Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Backstrom, Patric Hornqvist, Victor Hedman, and William Karlsson, which is a not too shabby group to be in.
So far this season, he definitely has a lot going for him to do well. He is fresh of a monster performance in the AHL playoffs that helped the Marlies win the Calder Cup and he played well in his brief NHL stint.
His underlying stats show he can be an effective player and will likely be further elevated due to his potential linemates. If I were a betting man, a 20 goal, 40 point rookie campaign is very likely in the cards for Johnsson this season.
It should prove to be an exciting year watching how Johnsson does in his first full NHL season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. If he performs well, a bigger pay day and a larger role with the team will be in his future.
All stats unless otherwise noted are from Hockey-Reference.com.