Marcus Johansson excited for ‘another crack at it’ in second stint with Wild

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VANCOUVER — Not long after the news started circulating on Tuesday afternoon, Marcus Johansson received a text message from Joel Eriksson Ek.

“He asked if it was true,” Johansson said with a laugh. “He was pretty quick.”

A few minutes later, the Wild tweeted out the official release, announcing that they had acquired Johansson from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2023 NHL draft. The move itself caught Johansson by surprise because it had been a relatively productive campaign to this point. He recorded 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists) in 60 games with the Capitals, so he didn’t necessarily expect to get moved at the trade deadline.

“I didn’t really see it coming,” Johansson said. “You never know in this business.”

It helps that Johansson already knows his way around the Twin Cities. He spent the 2020-21 season with the Wild after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Eric Staal. In that time, he connected with a lot of players that are still on the roster.

“It makes everything a lot easier coming here knowing most of the guys,” Johansson said. “Hopefully that transition won’t be too hard.”

Asked about his first stint with the Wild, the 32-year-old Johansson admitted that it wasn’t his best work. He battled through a number of injuries and only mustered 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in 36 games.

“It was frustrating,” Johansson said. “I’m glad to get another crack at it.”

No doubt Johansson’s biggest strength is his speed up and down the ice. That explains why coach Dean Evason placed him alongside Eriksson Ek and opposite Matt Boldy for the game against the Canucks on Thursday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

“We are hoping that maybe they can catch some chemistry,” Evason said before puck drop. “We will see here tonight.”

As for Johansson, he made it very clear that he’s excited to be a part of the Wild, especially considering the way they have been playing as of late.

“This team is in a great spot,” Johansson said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun making a push here and seeing how far this can go.”

Foligno sits out

The coaching staff didn’t have to make a tough decision to fit Johansson into the lineup. Not with Marcus Foligno battling through a nagging lower-body injury.

“It’s just maintenance more than anything,” Evason said. “Could he push through it? Yeah. He probably would. Do we want him to? No. We want to get him healthy.”

It’s worth noting that Evason said if it were the playoffs, Foligno would be in the lineup.

Brodin stays home

Though he was expected to accompany the Wild on the road trip, Jonas Brodin actually stayed home as he continues to recover from a lower-body injury. It’s unclear when Brodin will be ready to return to the lineup. He’s currently on injured reserve.

“We left him at home to get a little extra,” Evason said. “We expect him to probably start skating after this road trip.”

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