We’ve nearly wrapped up this series for another year, and we’re down to the top two, a place that sometimes gets heated when it comes to these rankings. Nylander versus Marner, anyone?
This year, like the last, however, things are relatively cut-and-dry again. Our second-ranked Leafs prospect is Andreas Johnsson, just in time for him to go on and not be a prospect ever again.
As far as player development goes, Johnsson is pretty much the ideal of how a late-round pick can work out. The Leafs drafted him all the way back in 2013 with their 202nd (!) overall pick in the 7th round, then left him to marinate in the Swedish Hockey League. After three full seasons in Sweden, he came to this side of the pond and suited up for the Marlies the last two seasons, which also included two AHL playoff runs and a Calder Cup MVP honour. With him garnering a little bit of spot duty with the Leafs in the spring, and having such a dominant run for the Marlies, his minor league days appear to be over, and he’s essentially assured a top nine winger slot this upcoming year – especially with JVR and Komarov leaving town.
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No surprises here. We have a couple first-place votes, but I can understand that given some might weight Johnsson’s readiness highly.
(Image via EliteProspects)
2017-18 Season Recap
Again, Johnsson was a first-rate producer in the AHL this past year and looked strong with the Leafs as well. He’s shown he’s fully graduated to the bigs, as his numbers all hit the upper percentiles for minor league forwards. There’s nothing left to prove there.
As Seen on TV
What are we expecting from Johnsson this year, assuming he plays an entire schedule? We know he’s going to bring it every night and pin the needle from shift-to-shift, but is the scoring touch really there at the NHL level? Can we realistically expect 20-25 goals from him if he locks into a top six role? I’m not sure, so I’m sort of hedging and saying I see him as a Zach Hyman-like producer, which isn’t a bad thing. 15 goals and 40 points sound about right? Sure.
I really don’t expect Johnsson to fill the offensive shoes of JVR, which is sort of unfair in the first place. But he does seem stronger on the other side of the puck, so maybe his ability to tilt the ice in the run of play will present a net positive. Also, when it comes to scoring, Toronto has enough options that we probably don’t need to be disappointed if this kid can’t crack the 20-mark. I hear that Tavares fella can find the net.