The Seattle Kraken have added to their offensive arsenal, signing a former first-round pick, Marcus Johansson. The unrestricted free agent agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. (Kraken adds versatility with signing of forward Marcus Johansson, inks 2-year pact with defenseman Vince Dunn,’ Seattle Times, 08/06/2021) This new contract provides Johansson the opportunity to regain his scoring touch in a new market, with a chance for a more significant contract next summer if the results are there.
Johansson joins the Kraken and will be one of their marquee players out of the gate. The native of Landskrona, Sweden, comes from the Minnesota Wild, where he scored just 14 points in 36 games during the 2020-21 season. When healthy, Johansson can score at least 30 points in a campaign, which he has achieved in eight of his 11 seasons in the league.
The Road to the NHL
Johansson was just 15 years old when he embarked on his professional hockey career with Malmö in the under-18 HockeyAllsevenskan, Sweden’s second-tier hockey league. After switching teams during the 2006-07 season, Johansson found moderate success before changing teams again in 2007-08. He eventually debuted in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), the country’s top league during the 2008-09 season.
Related: 2021 NHL Free Agent Signing Tracker
His performance caught the eyes of the Washington Capitals, who drafted the 6-foot-1, 205-pound left winger in the first round of the 2009 Entry Draft. While bouncing between the top and the third tier leagues in Sweden, he switched from wing to center to increase the opportunities for more ice time.
In May 2010, Johansson inked his entry contract to join the Capitals at the beginning of the 2010-11 season. As the primary center of the second and third lines, Johansson scored 27 points in his rookie season. He produced his first 40-point campaign the following season before injuries took a chunk of his playing time away in 2012-13. He returned to put up 44 or more points in the next three seasons before a career year in 2016-17. In 82 games that season, Johansson scored 24 goals with 34 assists for 58 points. He also registered a plus-25 rating, the last time he finished the season with a positive rating.
The following summer, Washington traded Johansson, one of their most reliable scorers, to New Jersey. He has since made pitstops in Boston and Buffalo before signing with Minnesota last season.
Versatility as an Asset
Anyone who browses the internet today will not find a solid lineup projection for the Seattle Kraken just yet. The dog days of summer may be upon us, but clearly, the Kraken appear to be wheeling and dealing still.
Johansson is a versatile position player because he can play wing or center. There will be some growing pains with the new franchise, and having a guy with his skillset is a blessing. Whether he anchors the second or third line, Johansson can return to the 30- and 40-point plateaus he is very familiar with if given the opportunity.
The Vegas Golden Knights struck gold with a variety of their player selections in 2018. The Kraken may not have followed their playbook, but there are endless opportunities for a guy like for Johansson to have a career season and show the league he is still a premier player to have on the bench.
Ryan Gagne is one of the newest members of The Hockey Writers, covering the New York Islanders. He grew up in a small town in northern New Hampshire, where he idolized the Boston Bruins. Before moving to Canada in 2008, he was the equipment manager for his high school varsity hockey team and a sports journalist for the local newspapers. Ryan has been active in the hockey community, whether coaching, officiating, instructing, or playing. He is the ultimate rink rat with 19 years of experience making ice and driving the Zamboni. An avid fantasy sports player, Ryan created a blog, Keeping the Stats, where he dissects his teams and brags about his 2020 fantasy football championship. Outside of hockey, his life revolves around the New York Yankees, much to his wife’s chagrin.