Rumors began to swirl about a potential trade of either Marcus Johansson or Philipp Grubauer after the Capitals signed TJ Oshie to an eight-year $46 million contract. We had expected Grubi to end up with the Vegas Golden Knights through the draft, but we all know it was Nate Schmidt who headed to the desert instead. With all the openings for goalies around the NHL, we thought surely the Caps would trade Grubauer before MoJo.
And we were wrong again.
We get that the Capitals have a money problem. From our perspective we are seeing some failures to manage the salary cap and a sense of desperation from on high. Many on social media were stunned that the Caps would let go of someone who we think has been a steady performer for the team in order to bring up junior players from the Hershey Bears.
We have enjoyed watching the maturing of Marcus as a hockey player. We got to know him and his father when Brittney was working in the team store and from a time when we all hung out at The Front Page, when it was a hub for Capitals players. Every year we would chat with Lars Johansson about how Marcus was improving his skills and his contribution to the Caps.
Marcus celebrated hitting the 500 game mark this past season. During that time he notched 290 points – an average of a point for over half the games he played. He also had 20 game winning goals (GWG) during his seven season with the Caps. The 2016/17 season was his best with 24 goals and and 34 assists. He ranked fourth on the team for points – just one behind Evgeny Kuznetsov. He had the third most goals and fourth in assists. He scored five power play goals – two less then Oshie.
When it comes to the playoffs – which matters if you really want to win the Stanley Cup, Johansson scored only two goals and had six assists this past season. He tied with Alex Ovechkin in overall points at eight. And one of those goals was a GWG. In previous season he recorded seven points – two of them goals. When you consider the most number of goals scored in the playoffs by a single player is SIX – his two goals with assists is a very respectable showing for the Capitals.
Although we were disappointed that the Capitals failed to protect Nate Schmidt because we could see his potential – we are baffled by their trade of Marcus Johansson. We understand the business side of things. We just don’t understand the Caps willingness to trade a proven performer who is on the cusp of a breakout year for unknown commodities from Hershey. It all comes down to management of financial assets and we can’t help but feel that things have gone south since the Vegas draft when George McPhee outplayed Brian MacLellan to steal Schmidt.
In return for the Johansson trade to New Jersey, the Capitals get the Panthers’ second-round pick and the Maple Leafs’ third-round pick next year, according to SB Nation. To use this means they are desperate to lower their salary cap ceiling and are looking further into the future for team development. After signing Oshie and Kuznetsov to eight years and Dmitry Orlov to six, the Caps still have to consider how to pay for Andre Burakovsky and Grubauer. The only way to do that is to let someone go. Some have wondered why they didn’t package Brooks Orpik with MoJo – but maybe no one was biting on that deal.
In the end, we will miss chatting with Marcus and his dad Lars. We felt fortunate to get to know them over the years and we have only ever wished the best for Marcus and his family. We hope that his will be a good move for him and that we will see him continue to do well.
Check out GM Brian MacLellan’s comments about the changes here.