Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Andreas Johnson is off to a stellar start to his age-21 campaign with the SHL’s Frolunda Indians. The 20-year-old forward, who will turn 21 next months, is second on the team in points with 14, and is second to ex-Marlie Spencer Abbott in shots on goal with 42. Both of those marks rank him in the top-10 among SHL skaters. Not bad for a recent seventh-round draft pick.
Johnson is already on the radar for hardcore Maple Leafs fans, he was our seventh ranked prospect this past summer, but his game appears to have taken yet another leap forward this season. Should that change our assessment of him? How excited should Maple Leafs fans be about this guy?
The answer, quite frankly, is pretty damn excited. Johnson, as a former seventh-round draft choice, is basically found money. He’s got the speed and the offensive skills to be a pretty interesting NHL-level player in the not-too-distant future.
The point per game pace that Johnson is currently on, at his age, puts him in pretty solid company in terms of historical comparables. If we plug Johnson’s age and current production rates into the PCS model, we get some pretty astounding numbers. Essentially 40 percent of the players who were a similar build to Johnson and scored at a similar rate at the same age in the SHL managed to appear in over 200 NHL games. For their careers, these players averaged 55 points per season. Not too shabby.
The list of comparables includes a smattering of former late-round draft steals, most notably Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson and Patric Hornqvist. It also includes players like Andreas Dackell, Kristian Huselius, Samme Pahlsson and Patrick Thoresen.
Johnson’s early season success with Frolunda has him keeping some elite company in terms of his production rates, though we should note that the PCS tool may overrate the young, skilled forward. PCS rates offensive production as extremely important, which is well founded because it’s more predictive of future NHL success than anything else we’ve found, but as any NHL fan knows: counting stats need to be looked at in context.
As good as Johnson has been, we should note that he doesn’t lead his team in scoring (Henrik’s brother Joel Lundqvist does) and he doesn’t lead his team in shots on goal (Abbott does). He’s also playing second-line minutes overall, but power-play goals account for more than half of his goal totals so far. Finally, Johnson is playing on an offensive juggernaut in Frolunda. The Indians have, so far, played 14 games this season and they’ve won 13 of those contests. They’ve outscored the rest of the league by 15 goals! They have defensemen who are averaging a point per game.
PCS is a helpful tool and an interesting way of looking at prospects, but it doesn’t account for strength of team at this point. As impressive as Johnson has been this season, we may want to put away our Zetterberg, Alfredsson and Hornqvist comparisons and save them for another day.
The Maple Leafs signed Johnson to a three-year entry level contract this past June, and the first year of his contract won’t slide while he plies his trade for Frolunda. He’s expected to come over the pond to play for the Maple Leafs (or the Marlies) in 2016-17, according to James Mirtle of the Globe & Mail.