Though it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise with the deadline set for tomorrow, Michael Russo of The Athletic has confirmed that the Minnesota Wild are not going to sign Filip Johnasson. The 2018 first-round pick will become an unrestricted free agent and the Wild will receive a compensatory pick in this year’s draft, which will be 56th overall.
Johansson, 22, has spent the last three seasons playing in the SHL, where his offensive numbers have never really improved. In 47 games this season the young defenseman had just three goals and 11 points. Not only that but he hasn’t been included in any major international events for Sweden since the U18 World Juniors in 2018 and signed a two-year extension with Leksands in December, which keeps him under contract through the 2023-24 season.
All that adds up to a player that didn’t hold a ton of upside for the Wild, and given the fact that they can now get a solid compensatory pick, leaving him unsigned makes at least some sense.
Still, when looking back at the 2018 draft it is easy to think about what could have been. Just as the Wild’s pick was approaching, the New York Rangers traded up four spots and selected St. Paul native and NHL regular K’Andre Miller with the 22nd selection. While it’s certainly no guarantee that the team would have gone with the 6’4″ Miller, who was committed to the University of Wisconsin, he or one of the many other defensemen that followed (Rasmus Sandin, Mattias Samuelsson, and Alexander Romanov are among the group taken soon after) could have been a difference-maker for the Wild already.
Now, though a second-round pick does hold value, the team will likely have to wait several other years for that player to mature and develop–if he makes it at all. This unfortunate result is just another oddity in the whirlwind 14-month tenure of former Minnesota general manager Paul Fenton.