“You can't go back home to your family, back home to your
childhood… back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame… back home to
places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which
once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time -- back home to the
escapes of Time and Memory.“
— Thomas Wolfe, book You Can't Go Home Again
Marcus Johansson was selected by the Washington Capitals as the 24th overall pick of the 2009 Entry Draft. He played seven seasons for the Caps, posting 102 goals and 290 points in 501 games. He was then traded to the New Jersey Devils, which started a long winding road for Johansson – five teams over four-plus seasons – before the road led back to Washington last March for his second tour with the club.
Fearless’ Take… Johansson played in just 18 games in his return to DC. He was just 3-3-6, minus-4, in those 18 games, but the Caps did go 3-1-2 in the six games in which he posted points. They were 5-3-0 in the eight games in which he logged two of more shots on goal. His 53.5 shot attempts-for percentage at 5-on-5 was fifth among Caps forwards over the 18 games he played.
Cheerless’ Take… About those six games with points. The Caps won the first three, then they went 0-1-2 in the last three. Johansson skated more than 14 minutes ten times. The Caps went 4-6-0. He was a minus-2 in goal differential-on ice at even strength. He was charged with nine giveaways but credited with only two takeaways.
Odd Johansson Fact… Johansson’s last game with the Caps in his first tour with the club was a 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins that eliminated the Caps from the playoffs. From that lineup, the following are still with the team – Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson, Lars Eller, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, T.J. Oshie, Alex Ovechkin, and Tom Wilson.
Odd Johansson Fact II… Johansson neither drew nor took a penalty in his 18 games with the Caps, the only Capital to do so. Among players appearing in at least 65 games overall this season, only Seattle’s Riley Sheahan had fewer penalty minutes (two in 69 games) than Johansson (four in 69 games). Since he came into the league in 2010-2011, no player with 750 or more games has been charged with fewer penalty minutes (112 PIMs in 753 games).
Odd Johansson Fact III… Of 52 players to take at least 250 faceoffs in Caps history, Johansson ranks 51st in winning percentage (41.9 percent on 2,080 draws), ahead of only Travis Boyd (39.5 percent on 365 faceoffs). However, he was 10-for-18 (55.6 percent) in his 18 games with the Caps to finish the season.
Game to Remember… April 18th at Colorado. Johansson played in only 18 games for the Caps and recorded only three goals, but his second with the team in his return deserves remembering. In a 2-2 game mid-way through the third period against the Avalanche, Johansson drove a stake in what was, to that point, a nine-game winning streak for the Avs. What would be the game-winning goal sequence started when defenseman Jack Johnson sent an ill-conceived pass through the middle that Logan O’Connor could not accept cleanly. Conor Sheary collected the loose puck, circled, and found Johansson in the right wing circle for a one-timer that beat goalie Darcy Kuemper over his glove on the short side, to give the Caps a 3-2 win.
Game to Forget… April 3rd vs. Minnesota. This was another of those games in which a player’s effort becomes forgettable because there is nothing in it to remember. In this one, Johansson had 14:35 in ice time, but in it, he had only one shot attempt (shot on goal), no hits, no takeaways, no blocked shots, a giveaway, and he was on ice for two goals against in a 5-1 loss to the Wild.
Postseason… Johansson did have a game-winning goal in the six-game series against Florida, in Game 3 (the Caps’ last win of the series), his only goal of the postseason. He had one assist, also in Game 3. He finished a plus-1 for the series and had one shot on goal in four of the six games. His postseason was “one” that was okay, but not remarkable in any particular way.
Looking Ahead… It is hard to think that the Caps will make re-signing Johansson (an unrestricted free agent to be) a priority. He will be 32 years old when next season starts, and his production since he left the Caps after the 2016-2017 season has not jumped off the page (42-75-117, minus-75, in 252 games, 9-20-29, minus-26, this season spent mostly with a struggling Seattle team). His $900,000 cap hit this season would be affordable if was the basis for a new deal, but the Caps have similarly affordable – and younger – options to evaluate in a bottom six forward role.
In the End… Johansson was the Caps’ “big splash” at the trading deadline, but it caused hardly a ripple. He is not the player he was in his first tour with the Caps. Both parties would seem to be going their separate ways at this point.
Grade: Incomplete (too few games to grade)