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The Marcus Johansson conundrum

February 16, 2019, 10:57 AM ET [52 Comments]
Todd Cordell
New Jersey Devils Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
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New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero has a lot of decisions to make in the coming weeks. Perhaps the biggest is what to do with pending unrestricted free agent Marcus Johansson.

His tenure with the Devils has been disappointing – in large part due to injuries, though a lack of puck hasn't helped – but the tune has really changed, particularly of late.

Johansson, who ranks 2nd to Taylor Hall on the Devils in shot contribution% through the games I've tracked, is finally seeing his efforts rewarded on the scoreboard.

He has picked up 10 points (five goals, five assists) over the last 11 games, and 20 (nine goals, 11 assists) over the last 28. That's a 58.6 point pace over a decent sample size.

Beyond the point production, Johansson has been one of the team's more dynamic players through the neutral zone and does a lot of the heavy lifting in that area. He's very valuable to the team's attack.

That's what makes this a bit of a tricky situation for Shero. On one hand, the recent production will boost his trade value and could help land something meaningful that'd help the Devils down the road.

On the other, the Devils need to add top-6 forwards – not subtract them – and Johansson is one you can keep without being forced to hand out crazy term.

If the Devils plan to re-sign Hall, which is obviously the case, then you want to surround him with pieces that could help the team be competitive sooner than later. In other words, it's important not to waste the last couple years of his prime with a never-ending retool. Trading Johansson for a couple picks or a prospect would be counterintuitive to that.

The final decision will ultimately be return-dependant – at least it should be. If offers of real quality aren't tabled (i.e. more than a 2nd round pick and something minor), I think the Devils would be best keeping Johansson and signing him to an extension.

We'll see if Shero feels the same way.

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