Hey, here’s a familiar name for you all. Andreas Johnsson made an appearance on last year’s iteration of Top 20 Prospect Rankings at #7, which means he fell one spot to #8 this year. Keep in mind though, all of the guys who were ranked above him last year could no longer be considered prospects this year, as most of them spent the season pretty much tearing up the NHL and the only one who didn’t was Kasperi Kapanen, who still managed to play enough games to exclude himself from Calder eligibility.
Considering the above, it would have been nice for Johnsson to have moved up at least a few spots in the rankings, but he was jumped by a few names and of course, the Leafs drafted a pretty notable young defenseman this year.
That being said, however, Johnsson is still a very good prospect with the potential to crack the Leafs lineup, and after a full year playing in North America, we’re more likely to see him on a stint in the NHL, even if it doesn’t end up being a long-term thing, as the Leafs are chock-full of wingers.
Shawn Reis: 10
Ryan Fancey // Bobby Cappuccino: 9
Scott Maxwell // Ryan Hobart // Brayden Engel // Hayley Hendren: 8
Adam Laskaris // Evan Presement // Dylan Fremlin // Megan Kim: 7
Jon Steitzer: 6
|FORWARD||GÄVLE, SWE||5’10||190||L||TORONTO MARLIES||2013 DRAFT (7-202)|
After spending more or less his entire hockey career with the Frölunda organization in Sweden, Johnsson finally made the jump over the pond in 2016-17. It wasn’t his first time skating with the Marlies, as he made a brief appearance in the 2016 playoffs that was cut short by a brutal hit that took him out for the remainder of the postseason with a concussion.
That hit and subsequent concussion were pretty rough, so it’s good to see a full season from Johnsson. He had a solid — if not spectacular — year, and more or less showed that he was who we thought he was: A creative winger with plenty of offensive upside.
The Leafs are pretty log-jammed with wingers which doesn’t particularly improve Johnsson’s chances of seeing time with the Leafs, but if the injury bug strikes, it’s definitely not out of the question. He’s not overly large, but he’s fast, creative, and skilled. Which, frankly, worked pretty well for some other young wingers on the Leafs last year.
As you can see by his career stat lines, Johnsson has been a productive player at every level he’s played at. He’s also improved from year to year as he continues to play in a league, so don’t be surprised if his numbers jump up this year with the Marlies. That’s doubly true because this year, there shouldn’t be an adjustment period as Johnsson acclimates to the smaller ice.
If you look at his game-by-game stats from this season, you’ll notice that he had a two-goal performance in his season debut. You’ll also notice that his production picked up as he went — it looks like it took him around two months to get comfortable, after which point his offense gained a measure of consistency that it lacked at the start.
Thanks to the ever-helpful Prospect-Stats, we also have this player card, which confirms what we might have assumed. Johnsson is a good top six forward, and it’s particularly encouraging that despite getting second line minutes, he’s putting up primary points at a first line pace.
Look, I’m a big fan of Johnsson, and I’d love to see what he can do in the NHL, especially after a full season with the Marlies. But it all comes back to the fact that the Leafs are loaded with wingers right now, and there are guys on the Marlies that are higher on the depth chart than Johnsson. You never know, though.
The Eye Test
Basically, Johnsson is quick, creative, and unafraid to get into the thick of the action despite being a little undersized. Today’s game certainly allows for smaller players to succeed and even excel, and Johnsson has so far shown that his size doesn’t impede his play.
He’s got excellent hands and great vision, which adds up to a knack for finding open teammates. That being said, while he’s very good passer, he’s also not afraid to shoot the puck. He’s a balanced offensive player, and the long and short of it is this: When the puck is on his stick, pay attention.
It’s easy to forget that Johnsson was something of a throwaway pick for Toronto in 2013 — seventh round, 202nd overall. With that in mind, any time that Johnsson eventually spends with the Leafs should be considered a plus, and if he stays in the big leagues for any length of time, that’s a massive win — it’s not too often that seventh rounders stick in the NHL.
As Seen On TV
My favorite section! A fun hockey GIF is worth a thousand words, right?
Above you’ll see Johnsson (#11 at the top of the screen) catch the breakout pass and carry it in, cutting away from the defender before passing it back to his defenseman. Then he goes to the net, finishing the play (on a pass from old friend Brendan Leipsic).
This goal perfectly displays his willingness to get dirty in the crease… And his hand-eye coordination. I can appreciate that, honestly.
So okay, he can score goals. He can pick up those assists, too. Look at him pick up the puck from behind the net and tap a perfect pass to the open man in front of the net. As we know from Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project, those behind-the-net passes tend to be extremely dangerous, and this one certainly was.
Unless quite a few things change between now and the start of the season, Johnsson will begin the year with the Marlies. He’s clearly a promising prospect, but there are wingers galore in this organization, and the best thing for him developmentally is to keep getting plenty of ice time.
His second season in the AHL should yield an even better offensive performance, and if he keeps on producing with the Marlies, he’s just a few trades and/or injuries away from a call-up or two.
I’m always a fan of the late-round-pick-turned-NHLer narrative, and I do think Johnsson has a shot at it. The main problem is that there’s no room for him right now on the Leafs roster, but that’s a great problem to have. In the end, there’s only so much that Johnsson himself can control, and the rest is up to faith, trust, and pixie dust. Alternatively, if pixie dust isn’t readily available, he needs certain pieces to fall into place.
On his end though, he’ll need to keep on scoring, and that shouldn’t be an issue. Johnsson finished the regular season with 20 goals, then tacked on six more during the playoffs. With his nose for the net, 25 goals in the 2017-18 regular season is very attainable, and 30 isn’t out of reach. And while he’s proven his size isn’t an issue, it wouldn’t hurt for him to put on a little more muscle, as long as he’s not sacrificing his speed to do so.
Keep an eye out for this one. The Leafs had such incredibly good injury luck last season that they’re bound to have some abysmal luck this year. That’s how it works, right?
In any case, if Johnsson does get that call-up, I’ll be looking forward to it. As my motto goes, you can never have too many speedy and skilled wingers on a team!
Previously, on TLN Top 20 Prospect Rankings 2017
#10 Eemeli Rasanen
#11 Dmytro Timashov
#12 Andreas Borgman
#13 Calle Rosen
#14 Miro Aaltonen
#15 Trevor Moore
#16 JD Greenway
#17 Justin Holl
#18 Jesper Lindgren
#19 Vladimir Bobylyov
#20 Nikolai Chebykin