Andreas Johnsson’s draft day simultaneously feels like forever ago, yet not that distant. The former in the sense that the Leafs have changed so much in that time, the latter in the sense that the turnover has been so drastic that you’d think it would’ve taken longer to execute. But four years later, the Swedish winger is knocking on the door, with no immediate path to a spot but the ability to take one should an opportunity arise.
|Age||22 (November 21, 1994)||Birthplace||Gavle, Sweden|
|Pos||Left Wing (LH)||Drafted||2013 (Rd 7, Pick 202)|
|Vitals||5’10, 190lbs||Acquired||Via Draft|
Toronto selected Johnsson with their first pick in the 2013 Entry Draft (the making him last pick of the pre-Shanaplan era), and it didn’t take long for him to look like a potential steal. In his Draft+1 season, Johnsson graduated from Frolunda’s junior team to their big club, scoring at a half point per game pace in Sweden’s top league.
That earned him a World Junior appearance, where he scored at nearly a point-per-game pace en route to a Silver Medal. More importantly for his career, though, he found himself in the Top 5 for Frolunda in points, and first among Under-20 scorers in the league, including highly-touted teammate Alexander Wennberg.
Wennberg, picked six rounds ahead of Johnsson, quickly found his way to the NHL after that season, and slowly developed into a top-end playmaker and top-six forward. Toronto opted instead to let Johnsson keep going in the SHL, and with each season he played, he made himself another leap. Toronto was so pleased with how things were going that they signed him to an entry-level deal to keep his rights but left him in Frolunda for 2015/16.
|16||2010-11||Frölunda HC J18||J18 Elit||12||9||9||18||19.7||8|
|16||Frölunda HC J18||J18 Allsvenskan||15||14||13||27||23.6||18|
|16||Frölunda HC J20||SuperElit||30||9||5||14||7.7||4|
|17||2011-12||Frölunda HC J20||SuperElit||42||19||13||32||15.6||75||17|
|18||2012-13||Frölunda HC J20||SuperElit||42||23||31||54||9.6||54||29|
At the end of the year, he was brought over to the Marlies to join their playoff run. Unfortunately, an incredibly dirty blindside hit by Albany Devils forward Dan Kelly gave Johnsson a severe concussion that not only knocked him out of the playoffs but made it hard for him to function like an athlete for much of the summer that followed.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that he had a rocky start to his season, scoring three goals in his first two games before going on a 15-game goalless drought, that was matched with two additional points for the first 14. Some time close to Christmas, though, things began to click, and Johnsson finished the season with 39 points in his final 54 games.
|pGPSn||pGPSs||Exp. Success %||Exp. P/82||Exp. Value|
|173 (12/31)||50 (5/31)||27.9% (11/31)||31.2 (14/31)||8.7 (11/31)|
The above numbers are products of the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System (pGPS), created by Canucks Army to project a prospect’s odds of becoming an NHL regular. For a run-down on what each of these stats mean, head back to the introduction.
Like Dmytro Timashov, Johnsson’s projection numbers looked better a year ago. Unlike Timashov, his percentage of making the has dropped a bit too; still in the top third or so, but still steep, especially for a player that is now being projected based off of being in North America at his age instead of being in Sweden.
This, of course, is because Johnsson was a superstar for Frolunda by the time he finished there, while his numbers with the Marlies this season were quite good but not as abundantly dominant. But, once again like Timashov, a rebound in percentages like the two got late in the season will likely lead to a perk back upward last year.
Either way, with what Johnsson has done as a player and how he found a way to recover and rebound last year, it would take a lot for him to never get a serious shot with an NHL team at this point.
I think what sticks out to me most about Johnsson is his agility, in a few senses of the word. He’s a sharp turner on his skates, he’s a quick stickhandler in-tight, and more than anything, he makes fast, fast decisions that tend to keep the play moving:
By Request: Andreas Johnsson shakes off his defender in the first period, leading to a chance for Ben Smith pic.twitter.com/ixTBxOdibk
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) September 20, 2017
This was noticeable a lot with the Marlies last year, and probably a good reason for a lot of his goals. While Johnsson’s a little too small to be a true “net front presence”, and was paired up with Kerby Rychel often enough to not have to be that guy, he stealthily swooped in and bury all sorts of close-range pucks in the blink of an eye
This is a good asset to have on a team like Toronto, who have shown under Mike Babcock a willingness to have its players play any position at any given notice during a shift.
The Upcoming Year
Johnsson really established himself as a big piece of the Marlies as last season progressed, and I expect that to continue this year. He’s already looked excellent, if not straight up NHL-ready in the preseason, and he’ll likely get the minutes and deployment needed to continue that this year, both at even strength and on the powerplay.
While not as certain as the two fellow Swedes ranked just below him (Calle Rosen at 10 and Andreas Borgman at 9), I feel Johnsson’s upside and ability to finish gets him the long-term edge. Players that can put the puck in the net regardless of level are hard to come by, and while there was some initial worry that it wasn’t working with the Marlies, a little bit of recovery and a little bit of rebounding luck reminded us of everything we had seen in him back in Sweden.
There’s no reason that Johnsson couldn’t find a spot as a support finisher on an NHL team’s scoring line in a year or two from now. For the sake of the storyline, I’d really love for it to be the Leafs; as great has restocking the cupboards has been for the team, Johnsson was seen as hope before there was a reason to hope, and it would be great to see that through.
To see the other profiles in this year’s series, please reference the full list.
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