The Capitals have re-signed prospect defenseman Lucas Johansen to a one-year, two-way contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal is for $700,000 in the NHL, $95,000 in the AHL.
Johansen, 22, was set to become a restricted free agent this offseason. He was the Capitals' first-round pick in 2016 (28th overall); he's one of only four first-round picks from that year who has yet to make his NHL debut. There are questions surrounding his NHL prospects and it appears he has dropped in the organizational depth chart.
Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev, both 2018 picks, are considered to be ahead of Johansen. Fehervary has already played in six games with the Capitals and an additional two in the playoffs. It doesn't help that Johansen is a left-shot, an area in which the Capitals are loaded with players.
While in Hershey, Johansen has dealt with injuries the past two seasons that have limited his availability and stunted his development. He played in only nine games in 2019-20 and 45 games the season before that.
Known as a puck mover, Johansen has struggled in that area. When carrying the puck in the defensive zone, he is often too quick to get rid of it when facing pressure and distributes it to dangerous areas on the ice that can handcuff his teammates. That's an area that can be improved with experience and he will have at least one more year in the Caps' system to do so.
With the AHL season up in the air due to the coronavirus, however, it is not clear when he and the Bears may get back onto the ice. For now, his odds of reaching the NHL with the Caps remain long. He may perhaps enter training camp with more familiarity in head coach Peter Laviolette than some of his teammates, however, as Lucas' brother, Ryan, played with Laviolette at his last head coaching job with the Nashville Predators.