Marcus Johansson was handed a one-year, $3.75 million contract in arbitration, but there’s been speculation that Washington’s offseason additions might eat into his playing time in 2015-16. Capitals GM Brian MacLellan doesn’t see that as inevitable.
“We just have a deeper top six and you’re going to have to play well and it’ll be hard to keep your job there,” MacLellan told the Washington Post. “He’s going to have to play well from the start.”
At the same time, MacLellan believes that Johansson can maintain a spot on one of Washington’s top two lines and serve on the first power-play unit. The general manager even hinted at Johansson’s role actually expanding as the 24-year-old might help kill penalties.
Washington added Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie over the summer and both of them are expected to serve as top-six forwards along with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. So when everyone is healthy, that will leave just one slot for Johansson or Andre Burakovsky.
Johansson had 20 goals and 47 points in 82 contests last season while averaging 16:28 minutes per contest.
Marcus Johansson and the Washington Capitals couldn’t agree to terms this summer and ultimately an arbitrator has decided what his contract should be.
The 24-year-old forward was awarded a one-year, $3.75 million deal for the 2014-15 campaign, per the Monumental Network. He put in an arbitration request of $4.75 million and the Capitals had countered at $3 million.
He was coming off of a two-year, $4 million deal and earned a little under $2.2 million in 2014-15. Johansson has recorded over 40 points in each of the last three 82-game campaigns and posted a career-best 47 points last season.
He might have trouble replicating that level of success in 2015-16 though. That’s because the summer additions of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams coupled with the rise of Andre Burakovsky might result in Johansson playing primarily on the third line. His power-play ice time might also drop from his average of 2:55 minutes per game last season.
Still, the fact that the settlement is near the middle will provide the Capitals with some breathing room from a cap perspective. Washington has a little under $500K in space remaining, per General Fanager, but that’s with three goaltenders on its roster. Moving netminder Justin Peters ($950K) to the minors would put Washington in a more manageable position.
Marcus Johansson had his arbitration hearing today and whatever ruling gets handed down by Friday afternoon, it’s likely to be a substantial boost from his 2014-15 salary of roughly $2.2 million, but will he earn his next sum?
That’s open for debate and it doesn’t have as much to do with Johansson as it does with the changing makeup of the Capitals as Chuck Gormley argued for CSN Washington:
With Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky slotted as the Caps’ first- and second-line left wings, and T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams slotted as their first- and second-line right wings, Johansson figures to start the season as a third-line left wing with centers Brooks Laich or Jay Beagle and right wing Tom Wilson.
His power-play time (2:55 per game last season, fourth on the club) could also dip because of the additions of Oshie and Williams.
And yet Johansson did record 20 goals and 47 points last season after finishing with 44 points in his previous campaign, so he could very well get somewhat close to his asking price from the arbitrator. Given that, Gormley wondered if the Capitals might end up walking away from Johansson’s contract. They would have the option of doing so provided that the arbitrator’s assigned salary is more than $3.8 million.
Keep in mind that Washington only has about $5 million worth of cap space to begin with and that’s excluding Justin Peters, who will presumably start the 2014-15 campaign in the minors, so the financial flexibility gained from a walk-away would be noteworthy.
At the same time, ending up with nothing in return for Johansson would be a tough pill to swallow. While a contract in the neighbor of $4 million isn’t ideal for someone playing on the third line, he would still have value to Washington in that role.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that Johansson and the Capitals can still agree to terms on their own before the arbitrator’s ruling.
Related: Arbitration looms, but Johansson not worried about future with Caps
Stout defense, big-time scorers, grit and goaltending. Justin Williams believes that the Washington Capitals boast every element you’d expect to see in a winning team, as the Washington Post reports.
“Obviously you need to earn respect of the league, and certainly L.A. has done that, and Washington is certainly doing that the way they’ve played the last couple years,” Williams said. “Not making playoffs, you get to watch a little hockey, and I watched a lot last year. They were tough to play against, good goalie, dynamic players, good defense, all the ingredients of a championship team.”
The 33-year-old winger would know a contender when he sees it, right?
He already has three Stanley Cup victories with two different teams (two with the Los Angeles Kings, one with the Carolina Hurricanes) under his belt.
Let’s face it: it’s also easier to take his stance seriously considering how much of a relative bargain his two-year, $6.5 million contract is.
It’s one thing when a free agent seems to land a huge payday and you get the impression that said player is burying the big-money lead, but perhaps Williams could have grabbed a bigger contract if winning wasn’t as much of a priority? Not many players win a Conn Smythe and then see a decrease in pay, after all.
As excited as T.J. Oshie may be to join the Capitals, Williams stands as arguably the more interesting addition: a strong two-way player with playoff credentials. It helps that he clearly singled out Washington as a strong destination, too.
(H/T to The Score.)
Alex Ovechkin will turn 30 years old in September. He started his NHL career in 2005-06 when the league came out of its second lockout and posted 52 goals and 106 points.
He’s coming off another 50-plus goal season in 2014-15. It’s the sixth time in his NHL career he’s accomplished the feat, including his 65-goal season in 2007-08. But the one thing that has eluded him in his time with the Washington Capitals is a Stanley Cup, much to the lamentation of the club’s owner Ted Leonsis.
“He’s a fantastic player. I think all of you in this room, don’t take Alex Ovechkin for granted. I think that happens sometimes. You see him all the time and there’s this repetitiveness about his greatness,” said Leonsis, as per CSN Washington.
“But when people from outside the organization come in, I think you heard that with Justin Williams, this is the best player in the league. He’s been that for the last 10 years. And the consistency that he has brought is really historical.
“He doesn’t miss games. He plays hard all the time and I feel I haven’t met my commitment to him, that we would build a team that would be able to win Stanley Cups. That we’re in it together.”
Eliminated by the New York Rangers after a seven-game, second-round series that went the distance in May, the Capitals have had a busy off-season trying to bolster their club to take a run at the Stanley Cup next year.
They signed unrestricted free agent forward Justin Williams, known for his penchant of scoring important goals in Game 7s, and then acquired T.J. Oshie from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and a 2016 third-round pick the following day.
Oshie admitted in an interview with Mike Vogel of the Monumental Network that he’s unsure at this point in the summer of where he will fit into the Capitals lineup.