After playing last season on a one year, $3.75MM deal, Capitals forward Marcus Johansson is looking forward to having more stability this year, writes Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post. Back in July, he inked a three year, $13.75MM contract, one that also affords him a small bit of no-trade protection in the form of a five team no-trade clause. As Johansson notes, not having looming contract talks takes some of the pressure off:
“Especially family-wise, it feels good. You still always put pressure on yourself to do well, and I think that’s never going to change for anyone. It’s just mostly off the ice with the family and all, you can, you know, relax and settle in a little bit more and just focus on the game.”
Johansson is coming off his third straight 40+ point season, picking up 17 goals and 29 assists in 74 games while averaging 16:38 of ice time per game. He also had a solid postseason, adding a pair of goals and five helpers in 12 contests with a 16:41 ATOI.
The 25 year old battled through an injury late in the year and told CSN Atlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir that he is 100% recovered although he wouldn’t specific what or where the injury actually was.
Last season, Johansson shifted between the left wing and center despite not playing the latter position much in the previous three seasons. However, that shouldn’t be the case this season as the addition of Lars Eller from Montreal should free him up to focus primarily on the wing. Johansson is certainly a fan of that as well, noting that it will be nice to just “focus on one thing at a time”.
More from Washington:
- Speaking of stability, Eller is looking forward to playing center full-time this season instead of shuffling positions, Khurshudyan wrote in a separate column. Eller spent time both there and on the left wing last year with the Canadiens but noted that he’s “never hidden the fact that I like to play center the most” and that he couldn’t be happier to be at center this season. With both Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom at the World Cup of Hockey, Eller will open up camp as their top pivot, meaning he should have a chance to showcase his offensive skills before settling in to his two-way bottom six role when the season gets underway next month.
- Goaltender Braden Holtby’s World Cup of Hockey mask features a tribute to Canadian band The Tragically Hip and he will auction it off with the proceeds intended to go to the charity of the band’s choice, reports Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Holtby enters the tournament as the presumed backup goaltender to Carey Price but he will have a chance to debut the mask on Saturday night as he is expected to play half the game in Canada’s second exhibition game against the USA.