From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2010-11 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2011-12. Next up, Marcus Johansson.
#90 / Center / Washington Capitals
Born: Oct 6, 1990
NHL Seasons: 1
Contract Status: $900,000 cap hit in 2009-10; $900,000 cap hit in 2010-11
Key Stat: Johansson had exactly twice as many points (4G, 6A) in the final twenty games of the regular season as he did in the opening twenty (2G, 3A).
Interesting Stat: Johansson's six points in nine playoff games are still tied for fourth-best among all rookies.
The Good: After a somewhat slow start to the season, Johansson gradually began to find his stride as an NHLer and by the midpoint of the year was showing confidence and a stronger offensive side than he had in his first few weeks with the team. He had just five points spread out across the first twenty-three games; from December 21 on, however, he didn't go more than three games without a point until the final five games of the regular season and eventually racked up 27 points - 16 of which came in the second half of the season.
Johansson's evolution as a player included increasing responsibility in the defensive end, particularly on the penalty kill. He averaged almost two minutes of shorthanded ice time per game during which he posted the second-lowest GAON/60 among players with at least one minute of SHTOI/60. He was also among the least-penalized on the team, taking just five minors all season while also drawing the second-most penalties per 60 minutes.
As in the regular season, Johansson's adjustment to NHL playoff hockey wasn't immediate but by the end he had established himself as one of the better players for the Caps in their limited playoff run. His even strength points-per-60 minutes in the playoffs led all Caps and his six points were tied for third-most on the team. He was especially key in a pivotal double-overtime, come-from-behind win in Game 4 against the Rangers, scoring twice in the third period to help erase a three-goal deficit and setting the table for Jason Chimera's overtime winner.
The Bad: While Johansson exhibited a steady improvement in many areas over the course of the regular season and into the playoffs, there were still some facets of his game that were less-than-stellar. His penalty-killing work was good but he sometimes struggled defensively at even strength, particularly in the playoffs where he had the second-highest ES GAON/60 behind only Sean Collins.
Johansson also routinely struggled in the faceoff circle, taking the third-most draws behind Nicklas Backstrom and Boyd Gordon but winning just over 40% of them (and just under 40% at even-strength). He won at least 50% of his faceoffs just eighteen times in the sixty-nine games in which he appeared, nine in the first half of the season and nine in the second. Some of his inconsistency in the faceoff circle can probably be traced to the ease with which bigger, stronger opponents could muscle Johansson off the puck - something with which he had difficulty away from the faceoff circle, as well (although he did gradually improve in this area, both in the regular season and playoffs).
The Vote: Rate Johansson below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: Has Marcus Johansson established himself as the Caps' second-line center next season or should he continue in a more limited role for another season? Who would you like to see skating on either side of him next year? And finally, what will it take for Johansson to earn a "10" next season?