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The New Jersey Devils don't need to force Marcus Johansson out the door

January 24, 2019, 2:17 PM ET [20 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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I recently pitched the idea of trading Marcus Johansson, plus a sweetener or two, to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Andre Burakovsky.

The logic behind such a move is simple. New Jersey would get a young, talented player who could use a change of scenery, and more opportunity (much like Kyle Palmieri when he was on Anaheim), while the Capitals get an established scoring winger back who they know can have success with the system they play and the surrounding personnel.

While I'm certainly for trading Johansson in that kind of deal, I don't think the Devils have to force him out the door for anything they can get their hands on.

Extending Johansson *could* make sense, especially considering the Devils would likely get him for less term/money than otherwise expected as a result of a decline in counting totals. They'd be buying low themselves, which may end up being the best course of action.

I understand more production is expected of Johansson than what he's provided (16 points in 36 games) but there's plenty of data to suggest it's not a result of poor performance.

Despite the dip in production, Johansson is generating shots on goal, shot attempts, and scoring chances at the highest rate of his career. The lowest individual shooting percentage, and 2nd lowest on-ice shooting percentage, he's posted over the last half decade play big roles in his lack of production.

It's not like the spike in terms of individual chance generation has come at the expense of others. I've tracked ~1/3 of the Devils games to date and Johansson has assisted on 21.67% of on-ice attempts at 5v5. For perspective, Jesper Bratt assists on 22.62%, Taylor Hall assists on 22.37% and Nico Hischier assists on 20.96%. Johansson's numbers are right in line with the top playmakers, and most pass-happy players, on the team.

Johansson is absolutely getting to the age where you have to be careful about how long of a commitment you make but I doubt he'd command a ton of term at this point.

If the Devils think the decline in production is more percentage driven than due to an inability to create chances for himself/teammates, which the numbers suggest is not the case, it might not be such a bad idea to buy low and keep him around.

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