One of the main criticisms of the 2013 Draft for the Leafs
is that they didn’t swing for the fences in the first round and instead opted
for a rather safe pick in Frederik Gauthier. After that initial decision the
Leafs seemed to get increasingly more adventurous through the later rounds,
ultimately drafting Andreas Johnson, a 5’10 Swedish winger, 202nd
overall in the 7th round.
The pick was a departure from what the Leafs had done the
rest of the draft as Johnson was three inches shorter than any other player
selected, and was the only one who would spend the following season playing
overseas. It was his strong showing the season after he was drafted, playing in
the Swedish Hockey League, that initially put Andreas on our top 20 prospect
list, and now two full seasons after being drafted he’s safely in our top 10,
getting votes as high as being the 5th best prospect, and sits five
spots ahead of the player the Leafs took in the first round of his draft year.
Name: Andreas Johnson
Position: Left Wing
Hometown: Gävle, SWE
5’10″, 183 lbs
2015 Team: Frölunda HC
Acquired: Drafted, 7th Round, 202nd Overall in 2013
In the inaugural season of the Champion’s League Andreas
Johnson was quick to establish a name for himself with nearly a goal a game
pace, and averaging over two points per game the 19 year old did not look out
of place playing against men, albeit in a league that probably isn’t as good as
the regular Swedish Hockey League.
When playing in the SHL Johnson wasn’t able to keep up his
scoring pace, but finished 5th in the league in goals, 21st
in the league in scoring, so still pretty good for a kid in a men’s league.
“Johnson is a tough player to read. I see cases for him being
a “just fine” prospect as well as a great one. He’s small and not
that bulky, but his speed, skill, shot and hockey sense all grade as above
average — and some even better. He has an offensive flair to his game and he
has consistently impressed over the past few years, although he’s never been
dominant. I am willing to bet at least one more year on Johnson as a top
“Johnson, a skilled speedster who possesses serious upside,
has shown excellent progression since being selected late in the 2013 draft.
The Leafs are hoping he can join the likes of countrymen Henrik Zetterberg and
Patric Hornqvist as seventh-round picks that turn out to be hidden gems.”
Johnson is one of the few prospects that is already playing
hockey, and it’s likely that he’ll be staying in Sweden this year with Frolunda
trying to repeat his success of last season (he currently has 3 assists after
playing one game in the Champion’s League.)
The bar is set pretty high this season for Johnson and
Frolunda, as Johnson will likely need to crack the top ten in Swedish League
scoring, and help keep Frolunda at the top of the league in order for it to
have been worthwhile to continue to develop Andreas overseas.
It feels like somewhat of a waste to have Johnson who is
demonstrating that he can already play at a high level against men not spending
the year in North America with the Marlies, but the need for a winger to learn
the North American game isn’t going to be the same as it would be for a center or
defenseman and when he arrives next season he should be able to compete for a
roster spot the same as any of the other prospects. The reality of the Leafs
wanting to emulate the longer development processes of the Red Wings
organization probably means that Johnson will be on the Marlies following year
Players like Andreas Johnson, Connor Brown, and Nikita
Korostelev are easy to like and easy to be excited about based on their late
selections and both Brown and Johnson have done a lot after being drafted to
give us hope that they can contribute to the Leafs at some point. While his raw
skill, and greater potential offensive upside than Brown played a part in him
sitting higher in our rankings, Johnson is more of a boom or bust prospect than
Brown who has shown a versatility to play anywhere in the lineup.
Looking at the Marlies crowded top six for this season it
was probably the right move to let Johnson get the opportunity to play top line
minutes somewhere else and the timing should work out for the team next season
as the Marlies will be ready to graduate some players like Nylander, Brown,
Leipsic, Kapanen or Soshnikov to the Leafs and have a number of Marlies
forwards hitting free agency that they will need to make a decision on.
Perhaps the most exciting thing to me about Johnson is the
fact that for our midseason rankings we had Johnson
second overall, and without thinking any less of him the Leafs have been
able to add five prospects that we value even more than him.
Finally I asked the TLN staff who or what Andreas Johnson looks like and the following answer makes perfect sense…
Clearly Andreas Johnson is the Swedish Taylor Hall