Capitals

Capitals

With a three-year contract signed, it appears Marcus Johansson will be a part of the Capitals' future plans. Or will he?

As happy as Johansson is with his new contract and with the prospect of remaining in Washington, his new contract actually may find him playing hockey in Las Vegas next year.

With the Las Vegas expansion team set to enter the league, the NHL will hold an expansion draft in the summer of 2017 in which the new team will select players from current rosters. While each team will be able to protect certain players from the draft, every team is going to lose one. Johansson may just end up being that player for the Caps.

RELATED: KUZNETSOV NAMED BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Current teams will have the option of either protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie from the draft or nine skaters and one goalie. Most teams are going to pick the first option rather than the second because of simple math, protecting 11 players is better than protecting only eight. While teams will have to decide which of their top four defensemen is expandable, they will be able to protect their entire top six on offense. That will give Vegas plenty of players to choose from on defense, but very few options on offense.

Johansson is a forward with top six skill. He has registered over 40 points in each of the last three seasons, has plenty of speed and can play winger or center. With a cap hit of only $4.583 million, his price tag also is fairly reasonable for a player of his caliber.

 

The term is also a bonus as Johansson will be locked in until 2019. Remember, many of the players on Vegas' initial roster will not be there by choice. Players taken in the expansion draft didn't choose to sign there so getting contracts with more than one year remaining will prevent a mass exodus of players after the team's first season.

And let's not forget who will be making the picks for Vegas.

As general manager of the Caps, George McPhee drafted Johansson in the first round of the 2009 entry draft. If there's one thing we know about McPhee, it's that he has plenty of trust in "his" players.

By rule, players with a no-movement clause in their contract must be protected by their team from the draft. Johansson's new contract, however, includes a modified no-trade clause in the final two years of the deal, not a no-movement clause. That means the Capitals are under no such obligation to protect him from the draft.

Of course, Washington could choose to protect Johansson anyway in which case this argument would be moot. With players like Jakub Vrana and Travis Boyd waiting for their shots at the NHL and Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky nearing the end of their entry-level contracts however, general manager Brian MacLellan may choose to leave Johansson available.

A top six forward at a reasonable cap hit and two years remaining on his contract in whom McPhee is already very familiar with? Sounds pretty enticing to me.

MORE CAPITALS: ORLOV'S PROGRESSION SHOWS HE'S WORTH RE-SIGNING