The Boston Bruins acquired Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a second-round pick (2019) and a fourth-round pick (2020).
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 25, 2019
Bruins fans were fearing the worst as the trade deadline inched closer and closer. Players the team were originally tied to – like Mark Stone, Wayne Simmonds, and Kevin Hayes – were slowly picked up by opponents. It seemed as though general manager Don Sweeney was sitting on his hands, refusing to make a move. However, it now looks as though Sweeney was only refusing to overpay and outbid his rivals.
Johansson a Conservative Move
The addition of Johansson is a small let down for those who expected a big name to come to Boston. A big splash was avoided, but likely for good reasons. Sweeney’s trade targets all reportedly had multiple suitors – especially Stone, who was said to have four serious teams looking to acquire him.
The Bruins weren’t looking to give up anything too substantial. Maybe some prospects and picks were on the table, but it was clear that no current starter was going to be sent packing. Sweeney, who moved a first-round pick for Rick Nash last season, was likely reluctant to give up another first-rounder again. With Johansson’s contract expiring after this season, he could well be another rental – one Boston didn’t need to overpay for.
Coupling this acquisition with the Charlie Coyle trade made last week, the Bruins have snagged both players for Ryan Donato a second, fourth, and conditional fifth-round pick. Though losing Donato is the biggest loss, the picks are easy to part with. Sweeney didn’t have to give up too much in these two exchanges, yet they boost Boston’s chances of a Stanley Cup bid.
Johansson Bolsters Bruins
It is expected that Johansson will be in a top-nine role, likely finding a home alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on the second line. This would send Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen down to the bottom-six upon David Pastrnak’s return. Pastrnak won’t be playing for at least two weeks, however, so the lines will likely be juggled quite a bit for the time being. This means Johansson could find himself anywhere on the top-three lines which would be a good test run for the new Bruin.
Johansson has notched 12 goals and 15 assists in 48 games this season. With 68 games being the maximum he could appear in (the Bruins have 20 games left on their regular season schedule), their new addition is on pace for 38 points. While these aren’t stats that blow you away, they indicate that Johansson will be able to contribute a respectable amount to the Bruins’ playoff push.
The 28-year-old was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the first round in 2009. From the 2013-14 season to the 2016-17 season, he was a consistent starter. He was a 20-goal scorer in two of those four campaigns, racked up 44 or more points per season, and averaged 16:55 in ice time during that span.
He was knocked out of the 2017-18 campaign by a long-time Bruin: Brad Marchand. Marchand threw a nasty elbow at Johansson last season, resulting in a five-game suspension for No. 63. The victim received a concussion and he wasn’t happy about it. He had only appeared in 29 games, registering five goals and nine assists during that time.
When he’s healthy, Johansson is a consistent 40-point producer: he nabbed 24 goals and 34 assists in 82 games during the 2016-17 season, his best to date. This season, though not spectacular, has been a good one. If he had been able to appear in a full 82-game schedule, he would be on pace for 46 points – a feat he has achieved twice in his career. There’s also the Krejci factor: playing alongside such a skilled playmaker can only boost his stats and level of play.
At the end of the day, the Bruins didn’t make a big splash. However, Johansson is still a solid addition. When you consider the fact that they also brought in Coyle, they have successfully improved their team as they look to lock down a playoff spot before making a run at a championship. The Bruins may not have reeled in a big fish, but two small fish can be just as filling.
I cover the Boston Bruins and NCAA Hockey here at The Hockey Writers. Born and raised 10 miles north of Boston, I developed a love for the game of ice hockey at a very young age. There’s really nothing better than this sport, though steak is a close second.