After trade, Johansson will play on Wild line with Eriksson Ek and Boldy

When the Washington Capitals traded defenseman Dmitri Orlov and forward Garnet Hathaway to Boston last week, Marcus Johansson knew that more changes could be coming. After all, the Capitals had lost seven of eight games, tumbling down the list of Eastern Conference wild-card contenders.

On Tuesday, Johansson became part of Washington's restructuring when he was traded to the Wild for a 2024 third-round draft pick.

"I was a little shocked,'' Johansson said Wednesday at Tria Rink after his first practice in his second go-round with the Wild. "You kind of knew things might be happening. I didn't see it coming, but I'm happy I'm in Minnesota. I loved it when I was here the last time, and I'm excited to be back.''

Johansson, 32, played for the Wild in the abbreviated 2020-21 season, collecting six goals and eight assists in 36 games. He'll make his second Wild debut on Thursday night at Vancouver, playing left wing on a line with Swedish countryman Joel Eriksson Ek and Matt Boldy.

"It's going to be a lot of fun,'' said Johansson, who had 13 goals and 15 assists in 60 games with the Capitals this season. "They're two unbelievable hockey players. I know Ekkie a lot from back home, and seeing Boldy the last few years, it's been a lot of fun to watch.''

Wild coach Dean Evason is hopeful that Johansson can add productivity to an offense that scored two goals or fewer in 11 of 13 February games. The Wild went 7-4-2 in the month, thanks to goaltending like the 39-save effort Filip Gustavsson gave them Tuesday in a 2-1 shootout win over the New York Islanders.

"Speed. Lots of speed,'' Evason said of Johansson's skill set. "He's a smooth skater who can play all three [forward] positions. … He's a very versatile guy that we expect to help us in the offensive game.''

Evason said Johansson is a "pass-first'' type of player but playing him on the wing should result in more shots.

"I'll shoot some, too,'' said Johansson, who'll be an unrestricted free agent after the 2022-23 season. "… There's a lot of players that can make plays offensively, and if we can spread some scoring out, that will be great for this team.''

Johansson's first stint with the Wild ended in the 2021 playoffs when he broke his left arm while crashing into a goalpost during Game 3 of the first-round series against Vegas. Earlier that season, he missed 16 games after breaking the same arm.

"Knock on wood, I feel like I've gotten back to being myself a little bit at the end of last year, and then this year I've been healthy,'' Johansson said. "I had a few years where there were a lot of injuries and stuff you can't control. It was very frustrating.

"When I was here last time, I didn't have my 'A' game with all that was going on,'' he added. "I'm glad to be back and to get another crack at it.''

The Wild signed forward Caedan Bankier to a three-year, entry level contract that starts next season. The 20-year-old, who was a third-round pick in 2021, has 30 goals in 44 games for Kamloops of the Western Hockey League this season. He was on Canada's gold-medal-winning team at the world junior championship.