The first arbitration numbers have been filed as Washington and left winger Marcus Johansson each made their submissions in advance of Wednesday’s hearing. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Capitals have offered a one year deal at $3.85MM while Johansson’s camp is seeking $5.25MM. Here is a closer look at Johansson’s case.
Points wise, Johansson has been quite consistent over the past three years, collecting between 44 and 47 points in each. In 2015-16, he suited up in 74 games for the Caps, scoring 17 goals and 29 assists, matching the second highest point total of his career. That ranked him sixth in team scoring. The bulk of his production came in the second quarter of the season though where he collected 17 points in that span; his point totals in any of the other three quarters failed to exceed 12.
Johansson was a top six forward with Washington and a fixture on their power play, logging 2:44 per night with the man advantage last season. He also spent more time at center than he had since 2011-12, taking 278 faceoffs, winning 46% of them. In the postseason, he added seven points in 12 games which also ranked him sixth on the team.
In the early stages of his career, Johansson was predominantly a playmaker as 70% of his points in his first four seasons were assists. The 25 year old has shown more of a scoring touch the last two years, however, as only 60% of his points have been assists. This can only work to strengthen Johansson’s case as goal scoring is a major factor in arbitration awards and a more well-rounded offensive player should stand to earn more than a one-dimensional playmaker.
Colin Wilson (Nashville) – Wilson avoided arbitration with the Preds last offseason, agreeing to a four year deal with a cap hit of $3.9375MM coming off a 20 goal, 42 point season where he averaged over 16 minutes per game. Like Johansson, Wilson also spent some time at centre and the wing and has been more of a playmaker than a scorer throughout his career.
Nazem Kadri (Toronto) – Like Johansson last offseason, Kadri spent 2015-16 on a one year, ‘prove it’ deal and parlayed that into $4.5MM per season for six years. Over the past three seasons, their points per game averages are nearly identical (0.59 for Kadri, 0.58 for Johansson) and play similar roles with their respective clubs.
Craig Smith (Nashville) – Smith’s year-to-year production when he signed a five year deal with a $4.25MM AAV was more volatile than Johansson’s but the overall numbers are comparable. Both players are secondary producers that have left their teams wanting more at times, particularly in the consistency department.
Comparable contracts are restricted to those signed within restricted free agency.
Last offseason, Johansson was awarded $3.75MM coming off a season that was quite similar to the one he had in 2015-16 both in terms of his point production and role. With that in mind, it’s hard to see the arbitrator leaning closer to Johansson’s number. Typically, it’s expected that an award will come in close to the midpoint (in this case, $4.55MM) but this should come in a bit lower than that. We project a $4.25MM award from the arbitrator if the two sides can’t come to terms on a new deal before then.