By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson
As the trade deadline approached in February, rumors swirled about what the Boston Bruins were going to do. Many people believed that the Bs needed a top-six forward to play on the second line with DeBrusk and Krejci. Right, when it looked like the Bruins were not going to make a trade before the deadline, the news came out minutes before the deadline that a deal had been made. That trade was with the New Jersey Devils. Boston traded their 2019 second-round pick, and a 2020 fourth-round pick for Marcus Johansson and the Devils would retain 40 percent of his remaining salary.
Initial thoughts were that this was a pretty good depth trade and that Johansson was a player that could play on any wing. Then just four games into the Sweden native’s tenure in Boston, he took a crushing hit against Carolina. Jojo, as his teammates call him, would suffer a bruised lung and be out for a couple weeks. This had fans all over thinking “oh no, not again” because this would be the second season in a row in which a deadline acquisition would get hurt early into their tenure in black and gold. Three weeks later Johansson would return to the Bruins lineup and play in the teams remaining six games of the regular season.
The final three games of the regular season were very good for Johansson. He finally seemed to gel with his new team, and he would go to score a goal and dish out an assist in those three games. Then came the playoffs, and the Bruins would play Toronto in the first round. His first four games played in the playoffs were forgettable, and he would even sit out two of the first six games of the series. Then it was like a switch went off. The former New Jersey Devil would start gaining confidence and gelled really well with fellow mid-season acquisition Charlie Coyle. Johansson would go on to score a goal in game seven against Toronto, and since then the flood gates opened up.
The Bruins third line of Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, and Danton Heinen has been an x-factor for the Bruins this playoff run. The chemistry that Coyle and Johansson have on the ice is mesmerizing to watch, and every time Johansson touches the puck it seems like he has a chance to do something special. Including that goal in game seven, in his last 13 playoff games, Johansson has netted three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points. He is driving play and has been one of the best players on the ice for the Bruins these playoffs. Now, Johansson’s play this run to the Stanley Cup Final has brought up an interesting question. Do the Bruins re-sign him?
I think the Boston Bruins have to absolutely look at bringing Marcus Johansson back next season with one caveat. The price has to be right. The Bruins have around 14.3 million dollars in salary cap space going into this off-season. This seems like a big number, but let’s dig into that a little further. At the end of this season, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo are both restricted free agents, and you have to absolutely keep both of those players. That could take up most of your cap space depending on whether or not McAvoy takes a smaller “bridge” contract pushing off his big payday for a few years. On top of that, after next season Jake DeBrusk, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk, and Connor Clifton are all restricted free agents as well. So, it may take some financial creativity to keep Johansson.
Now, what would a new contract for Johansson look like? I believe if you can get him to sign a one or two year contract in the neighborhood of 2.8-3.15 million dollars a year, then you have to absolutely sign him. Anything beyond that would probably be too detrimental to the salary cap and hurt your chances of keeping those core restricted free agents. One thing I do know for sure is that I hope Johansson keeps up his play the rest of this Stanley Cup run. He has been a lot of fun to watch, and it would be great to see his play rewarded with hoisting the Stanley Cup here in June. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. Enjoy the rest of the Stanley Cup Final, and GO, Bs, GO!