You thought we were done talking about contracts? This summer there will be even more talk than there was with just Nylander.
According to Darren Dreger, the team made an attempt to sign Johnsson last week. Most likely trying to keep him long-term and get a better understanding of their future salary cap situation.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun also chimed in with his opinion on the Johnsson situation.
Don’t blame the Johnsson camp for wanting to wait. Piling up more points alongside Matthews only helps boost his arb case or traditional negotiation. But it’s also plain as fact if he doesn’t play ball a bit on his next deal he won’t be a Leaf next year. Need middle ground there https://t.co/eZY7wAcfTg
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 28, 2019
If Johnsson continues to play with Matthews for the rest of the season, no one can blame him or his agent waiting until the offseason to negotiate a contract.
One key aspect to note is that unlike the other restricted free agents for the Leafs, Johnsson is eligible for arbitration. So if they are unable to agree on a contract and no offer sheet comes in, they will be able to head to arbitration and agree on a one-year deal for the winger.
With the Matthews extension and the Muzzin trade, it is fairly obvious that Dubas likes to get ahead of any problems that might occur – the Nylander saga probably helped him find that out.
The ideal situation would be Johnsson signing long-term for a fair cap hit and there is quite an argument to be had for the Leafs having the advantage in negotiations.
Johnsson still has only played a total of 65 NHL games and averaging 12:49 on the ice. It’s a negotiation for future value, but he is already 24-years-old and will be a UFA in just two more seasons. How much better could he get as he exits the typical prime age for an NHL forward?
With that in mind, there is a possibility of both sides finding fair value long-term and keeping Johnsson with this team. As LeBrun mentions at the end of his tweet, if his side doesn’t “play ball”, then Dubas will have no other choice than to trade him for a different asset.
He’s good and important to this team, but not that important.