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Maple Leafs prospect Andreas Johnson finishes the season strong

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Johnson finished the SHL season sixth in points. Catch up on his full season and look ahead to his future.

At the halfway point of the SHL season, I took a look at Leafs prospect Andreas Johnson, and compared his performance to his teammates.

The main takeaway from that look into Johnson's numbers was that he is very good, particularly on the power play, but is playing a back seat at even strength to his linemates.

Now that the SHL regular season is over, we can look at how things stand now. But first a look at the game-winning goal in the last game on Tuesday. Johnson sets up the play with an excellent shot.

Regular Season

There have been a few changes on the team—Spencer Abbott missed some games, Joel Lundqvist has missed a few just lately, and Frölunda acquired a familiar face for its bottom six in Joey Crabb. They also promoted 16-year-old, 2017 draft-eligible forward Kristian Vesalainen from their J20 club where he put up 34 points in 37 games. Watch that name come draft day in 2017, there's a spark there.

With the exception of losing linemate Abbott for a while, Johnson has been cruising along as Frölunda finished second in the league. The icetime share between the lines has stayed largely the same, although Crabb has been getting a lot of minutes since he joined the team as they look for some grit. See, Swedish hockey isn't that different!

Compared to the league as a whole, Johnson finished sixth in points with 44 behind teammate Ryan Lasch with 51. He is eighth in goals with 19 behind Nick Johnson with 22.

On the power play he is first in points with 24, which is one ahead of Lasch, and third in goals with nine behind Nick Johnson with 14.

His ranking in points is doubly impressive for his age, and for the fact that no one in the top 25 plays as few minutes as he does except linemate Spencer Abbott, who is well down the list.

The caveat on this impressive result is, as it has always been, that he gets a lot of those points on the power play. At even strength he finished 42nd in goals and in points. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the top 25 in the SHL is littered with guys who could not make it in the NHL, including the points and goals leaders, Lasch and Nick Johnson.

Another issue is the amount of secondary assists in his points totals. His line plays a very effective cycle. They pass well, they set up good scoring opportunities, and it's usually Abbott and centre Johan Stundstöm who take the shot.

His point totals at the end of the year are relatively where they were at the half compared to his teammates, although he passed Joel Lundqvist. A look at wingers on all three top lines gives you an idea of how they spread out their offence.

Goals

Primary Assists

Secondary Assists

Total Primary Points

Andreas Johnson

19

14

11

33

Ryan Lasch

15

24

12

39

Arturri Lehkonen

16

6

11

22

Spencer Abbott

14

12

9

26

Shooting

I looked at the top nine guys shots on goal per 60 minutes at the half, and Johnson's gap between power play and even strength shooting has not moved a lot.

However, the entire team has started to shoot less. They looked a little ragged, tired and too sure of their place in the late stages of the season and it shows in that dip in shots. This is a similar graph to the half-season one that shows the same nine players.

I said at Christmas that he should shoot more, but obviously no one is. It's hard to say that his power play success and his even strength style of play is something that should be seen as a knock against the impact of his numbers. It is how they play as a team, and their style is effective. It's seems petty to downrate a guy for delivering what works and presumably what the coach wants.

The Future

With the playoffs to come and first round matchup to be determined, Johnson has an opportunity he really must seize. After playing every regular season game he's coming in healthy, fit, and ready for the challenge. His playoff numbers last year were not very good, and he seemed in deep over his head. He needs to be dramatically better this year. This is the point at which he needs to show he's taken a measurable step forward in development.

The Leafs have 12 draft picks for this coming draft, including eight in the first four rounds. Some or all of these guys will push Johnson down the list of prospects. He needs something on his resumé that's more than he's as good as Spencer Abbott. An excellent playoffs is a good start. But it's only a start.

Johnson also needs to hit prospect camp next year ready to fly. And then he has to get the job done at the grinding pace of an AHL season if he has any hope of cracking an NHL lineup. But that's hockey—the reward for a job well done is supposed to be a tougher job.