The Washington Capitals are the defending Stanley Cup Champions and are all-in on going for the repeat. Does that mean we could see a trade before the trade deadline?
With the NHL trade deadline rapidly approaching on Feb. 25, there are a number of players believed to be available. But who makes sense for the Caps?
This week, we will be exploring a possible trade deadline target from Monday through Friday and look into why they do and do not make sense for Washington to pursue.
Today’s target: Forward Marcus Johansson, 28, New Jersey Devils
Why it makes sense
The biggest question mark when it comes to trade deadline deals is chemistry. It doesn’t matter how good a trade looks on paper, if the player can’t build chemistry with the rest of the team, the move ultimately doesn’t work.
That wouldn’t be a problem with Johansson who spent seven seasons with the Capitals.
During his time in Washington, Johansson went over 40 points in five of his seven seasons. His last season with the Caps, 2016-17, was particularly strong with 24 goals and 58 total points.
Johansson is a fast, skilled winger who, when healthy, would be a top-six player on most NHL teams. For the Caps, he most likely would slot onto the third line. He uses his speed to get to the front of the net on quick break opportunities, looking for passes and deflections.
Plus, this would mark the return of “Dearest Abigail” to Washington. That’s a definite perk.
Why it doesn’t make sense
Johansson’s cap hit of over $4.5 million makes this one a bit tricky. The Caps would have to trade Andre Burakovsky to free up $3 million and either trade another player with the deal or convince New Jersey to retain over $1.5 million. Is Johansson enough of an upgrade to justify trading Burakovsky?
Johansson has had a lot of concussion and injury problems in New Jersey. He was limited to just 29 games last season and has played in only 43 this season. Sure, when he is healthy, he is a very good player. But since he struggles to stay healthy, it’s hard to know just how good he is at this point.
Is Johansson still the player who was knocking on the door of 60 points two years ago or have the concussion and injuries significantly impacted how good he can still be?
Plus, let’s not make Johansson out to be some sort of playoff specialist. Yes, we all remember his series-clinching overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but his production was somewhat limited based on the large role he was given.
Johansson scored nine goals and 30 points in 69 playoff games for Washington and was a minus-12 while averaging 18:15 of ice time per game. The opposition got more production when he was on the ice despite him playing a top-six role.
I’ll be honest, trading for Johansson makes zero sense to me. The injuries are a major concern and I don’t see him as much of an upgrade over what the Caps have now. I don’t like the idea of trading a 24-year-old skilled winger like Burakovsky – inconsistent though he may be – for an older, injury prone winger.
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