In a interesting move yesterday, the Devils added some scoring depth by trading Joey Anderson to the Maple Leafs for Andreas Johnsson. Johnsson is a 25-year old left wing who had been a good secondary scorer in Toronto.
Signed through 2023, his average cap hit is $3.4 million. The Leafs needed to free up salary. Similar to when they dealt Kasperi Kapanen to the Penguins, they found a taker for Johnsson. A late bloomer who was originally a seventh round pick in 2013, his best season came in ’18-19 when he achieved career highs in games played (73), goals (20), assists (23) and points (43).
The past season wasn’t as kind to him. In 43 games, Johnsson’s production dropped off to eight goals with 13 assists for 21 points. He only took part in one game during the Play In Round when the Leafs lost in five games to the Blue Jackets. The reason he was limited was due to a knee injury sustained on Feb. 13. He returned for Game Five when they were shutout by Joonas Korpisalo.
If he does return to form, Johnsson is a good skating forward with solid puck possession numbers. For his three-year NHL career, he’s a 53.8 CF. However, he was used more offensively with 56.8 percent of his zone starts in the offensive zone in ’19-20.
If he pans out, Johnsson could be a good addition to a Devils lineup that needs more offense in support of Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri, assuming he stays. He’s a year away from unrestricted free agency. The 29-year old right wing will earn an AAV of $4.65 million in 2020-21. It’ll be interesting to see what GM Tom Fitzgerald decides to do with the consistent finisher who has averaged a shade over 25 goals a season since becoming a Devil.
This far, the big moves have been trading for defenseman Ryan Murray from Columbus and adding Johnsson. They also made a wise decision in signing proven veteran goalie Corey Crawford to share the net with Mackenzie Blackwood.
Prior to dealing away Anderson to Toronto, the Devils had been rumored to be interested in Vladislav Namestnikov. However, he agreed to a two-year contract with the Red Wings for $4 million. A similar deal that ex-Ranger Jesper Fast received from Carolina. The only difference is he got an extra year.
In the biggest free agent news of the day, Taylor Hall reached agreement with the Sabres on a one-year contract for $8 million. It’s interesting that the former Devil who won the Hart Trophy a few years ago, decided to go short-term with Buffalo. He has a moderated no-trade clause. So, he’s willing to bet on himself by playing with Jack Eichel for the next season. Who would’ve thought that was possible?
The Sabres have quietly added pieces including Cody Eakin and Tobias Rieder to improve their secondary scoring depth. Along with the trade for veteran center Eric Staal, the Sabres are banking on Hall, Eichel and Jeff Skinner to lead the team to its first postseason in a decade. They’ve gone nine consecutive years without the playoffs. The longest active NHL streak.
That’s it for now. I’ll have more tomorrow.