The Boston Bruins' trade-deadline acquisition of Marcus Johansson proved to be a very good move by general manager Don Sweeney, and the team would be wise to re-sign the veteran forward before/during NHL free agency.
Johansson, 28, is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He earned $4.75 million last season between the New Jersey Devils and the Bruins -- the final year of his three-year contract . Sweeney and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy held a press conference Monday, and the B's GM praised Johansson's fit with the team while discussing the possibility of re-signing him.
"Well, we met – we had some meetings. I told Marcus that I did have the same, along the same lines, with the RFA side of things that we have some things we need to clarify internally before I can definitively tell him," Sweeney said. "We found that Marcus was a really good fit for our hockey club. I was proud of how he got injured, came back and elevated his play, was really invested, thought he fit in really well with Charlie [Coyle] coming in, gave us some options on the power play, was a really good fit. Good person, great teammate and got us to a certain point. Wish we could've finished it off."
The Bruins enter the offseason with about $14 million in salary cap space, per Spotrac, and the first two orders of business should be locking up restricted free agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo to long-term contracts. These young d-men, especially McAvoy, are part of the bright future on Boston's blue line.
Johansson definitely needs to be a priority for the Bruins, however. One of the reasons why the B's were able to progress to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final after a disappointing 2018 playoff run was they bolstered their depth with speedy, skilled bottom-six forwards. Johansson was a critical part of that group alongside Charlie Coyle (another pre-deadline acquisition).
Injury prevented Johansson from making much of an impact for the B's in the regular season and he was limited to just 10 games. But he was effective in the Stanley Cup playoffs with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 22 games. The Bruins, according to Natural Stat Trick, had a positive differential in shot attempts, shots on goal, goals scored, scoring chances and high-danger scoring chances during 5-on-5 action in the playoffs when Johansson was on the ice. Johansson also played 2:13 of power-play ice time per game in the playoffs, the fourth-most among B's forwards.
The Bruins shouldn't break the bank to bring back Johansson, but at the right price he absolutely should be re-signed. He's still young, he provides scoring depth and we already have evidence he can be effective with several different linemates in Cassidy's system. Johansson spent a lot of time on the third line in 2018-19, but he also could fill a wing spot next to David Krejci on Boston's second line next season if needed.
Boston must capitalize on its remaining championship window, and that should include re-signing Johansson to help ensure the roster has enough depth to withstand injuries in future playoff runs.
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