Even more extension news has come in today. The Washington Capitals have announced that they have re-signed defenseman Lucas Johansen on a two-year, $762k AAV deal. Per the Capitals’ announcement, the deal has the following financial structure:
- 2022-23: two-way, $750k NHL salary/$125k AHL salary
- 2023-24: one-way, $775k
Johansen, 24, was the Capitals’ top draft pick at the 2016 draft, going 28th overall. He’s taken a long time to develop, and spent four full seasons in the AHL before finally making his NHL debut in 2021-22. He got into one game with the Capitals this year and registered an assist.
At the AHL level, Johansen has grown since his debut season and become a top-four defenseman for the Hershey Bears. In addition to his 28 points in 62 games, Johansen averaged just over 20 minutes of ice time per game, which ranked fourth among regular Bears defensemen. He often played as the partner to another Capitals first-rounder, Alexander Alexeyev. Johansen was also a factor on both of the Bears’ special teams units, averaging 1:59 of short-handed ice time per game and 1:20 per game on the Bears’ power play.
Johansen probably won’t become the top-four staple he was drafted in the first round to be, but the Capitals still see enough in him to give him a one-way commitment in 2023-24. Two of Johansen’s professional seasons were wrecked by injuries, and that could mean that Johansen is simply a late-blooming former top prospect who needed a longer runway to finally develop into an NHL player. It’s also possible that Johansen doesn’t improve on the consistency he showed this season, and tops out as a solid middle-of-the-lineup AHL-er.
With this new contract, Johansen will have a crucial two-year window in the Capitals’ organization to finally break into the NHL and become the NHL regular scouts once believed he could become.