Which player has the most pressure in camp?
As training camp and preseason games start, I have been wondering about who can crack the lineup, which tryout vet makes the team and which players have the most pressure to make an impact.
Andreas Johnsson comes to mind.
In October of 2020 the Devils sent RFA Joey Anderson to the Leafs for Johnsson. At the time the trade was a clear win for New Jersey adding a definite second line winger (at that time) to the Devils for a young winger who really didn't have a chance to stick on a better Devils team.
After signing a 4 year following a 43 point (20 goals and 23 assists) 18/19 season, Johnsson had 21 points in 43 games not really finding a spot in a crowded Leafs team.
"He's got a nose for the net. He gets to the inside. He is small in stature (5-foot-10, 194 pounds), but he's stocky and he's heavy on pucks," Fitzgerald said. "He's a worker. He's a dog on a bone with skill, a guy who could really look good next to either Jack [Hughes] or Nico [Hischier]. That's the fun part. We don't go out in free agency and look, 'OK, this guy is going to be perfect for him,' or, 'He's going to be perfect for him.' We've got the luxury of two really skilled centermen. Wherever he lines up, it will be a complement to either center."
Well, that didn't seem to happen.
11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in 50 games in a shortened COVID season was what Johnsson was able to provide. More worrisome was the fact that he looked lost for most of the first half of the season playing up and down the lineup. Really lost.
Going from playing with Matthews and Tavares to joining a young rebuilding Devils team wasn't a great step up, certainly, but the output wasn't nearly what the Devils had traded for. Not enough for a projected 2nd line winger on this team.
So, after a pretty good off-season where does that leave Johnsson and his $3.4Mil average salary hit?
As I wonder about possible line combinations, Johnsson is always at the bottom of the pack.
Should he be playing on the fourth line?
Should younger players who will be around when it counts get his ice time?
Should PTO players who can add physicality or a scoring touch get his spot?
These are all questions the Devils hope will be answered in time. I do think that Johnsson has the hardest time of any player to find and carve a spot.
Or, I fear he may be another Gusev experiment and shipped out to the highest bidder. The Kraken looks like they can use a player like Johnsson.
What are your thoughts on Johnsson and where does he fit in?
I have gotten a few questions about Blackwood's stance on vaccination.
I have learned that COVID and the vaccine is a very personal and intimate matter. For many different reasons people are refusing the vaccine and their reasons should be respected.
From an employer point of view, the Devils will support his decision, but no doubt want him 100% on the ice and with the team.
As I listened to his media address on the topic, I saw an uncomfortable person talking about an uncomfortable topic. There is something certainly going on that he wasn't able to share :
"I have a couple health concerns, health reasons why I'm working through it a little slower," Blackwood said. "I just want to check off a couple of boxes and not rush to do it."
Devils fans, do not worry. It'll be a matter of time.
Enjoy Alex Holtz's first goal. Super excited to see what he brings to the Devils!
The Devils Advocate