Despite added depth in the rankings, and the additions of Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Carrick, Auston Matthews and Kerby Rychel to the Toronto Maple Leafs' organizational depth chart, Swedish Hockey League (SHL) standout Andreas Johnson falls only one spot from No. 11 to No. 12 in our 2016 Top 25 Under 25 (T25U25) series.
At No. 12, with 196 of a possible 350 points, a 21-year-old Johnson lands ahead of top young talent like Dmytro Timashov (No. 13) and Jeremy Bracco (No. 16), as well as relative veterans Zach Hyman (No. 14) and Frank Corrado (No. 15).
Not only is Johnson the first player to not receive a single vote in the 20s (Birky had him lowest at No. 17) but he's also the first person to receive a vote higher than No. 9 (Achariya ranked him highest at No. 5).
As such, his ranking marks the start of a theoretical new tier of players and prospects who were more closely agreed upon than the players ranked below them. Johnson was nearly ranked two spots higher, falling just short of the 11th ranked prospect by five points and the 10th ranked prospect by 10 points. In fact, the spread of Johnson's rankings didn't extend as far back as the two players who finished ahead of him in the consensus. The player at No. 11 had one voter rank him lower than Birky ranked Johnson, and the player at No. 10 had another voter rank him even lower than both Johnson and No. 11.
Achariya credits Johnson for already having produced as a top scorer in a professional league.
Despite being a Leafs' seventh-round draft pick, Johnson has proven that he has the fortitude and ability to play in a professional league. He won SHL rookie of the year in the 2013-2014 season, and as a second-year player, ended his season at 5th overall in goals scored.
A year ago, he was arguably the 2nd-best prospect in the Leafs system (at least according to a guy named Scott Wheeler), and although he's been pushed down in depth by a plethora of new talent, his third year in the SHL proved that he's a solid professional player.
His debut with the Marlies was cut short by a concussion, but this came after he brought his SHL team to a championship.
Birky sees him a little further down the depth chart because he hasn't yet played professionally in North America.
My rankings are usually an attempt to combine where a player is right now, what their potential might be, how likely they are to reach it, and how much that will impact the Leafs.
The club has a lot of depth at forward at the moment. For me, Johnson is in that second tier of prospects, along with Kerby Rychel, Brendan Leipsic, and Zach Hyman. Johnson is ranked the lowest among those four on my list, but that's mostly due to him likely being the furthest away from contributing at the NHL level. He's also the youngest of the four.
After his strong post-draft seasons in Sweden, the hope for me is Johnson can come over and produce like Mattias Janmark within a year or two.
|Voter||Scott Wheeler||67 Sound||Birky||Arvind||Elseldo||Gunnar Carlsson||Achariya||JP Nikota||Species||Steve Burtch||Katya Knappe||Acting The Fulemin||50 Mission Cap||Chris H|
After a breakout rookie season in the SHL, wherein Johnson won Rookie of the Year whilst battling asthma problems, the Leafs' Swedish import solidified himself over a three-year span as one of the league's permanent shot generators and scorers.
Johnson led the league champion Frolunda Indians in scoring in 2014-2015 with 22 goals in just 55 games. He followed that up with a repeating as the team's leading scorer last year. Along the way, he improved his point totals and developed his game as a passer before finishing second in team scoring with 44 points in 52 games as a 20 but mostly 21-year-old winger.
Mixed in were two huge performances in the newly-created Champions Hockey League (CHL). Johnson combined to score 35 points in 25 games over two tournaments, including a CHL-high plus-12 rating, and 11 goals in 2014-15.
Despite suffering a slow postseason in the SHL, and a concussion in his second game with the Marlies, Johnson made it clear that his time in Sweden has come to an end, and that he will join the Marlies (or the Leafs) this September.
Stylistically, Johnson is a diminutive shooter with a heavy one-touch shot -- off of his heel with a full windup or off his toe with a shuffle -- and the ability to shoot and release effectively in stride to beat goalies cleanly. His most unique ability, is his strength in seeing the play develop away from the puck and get into areas in the offensive zone where he can receive a pass and turn to target the net. Johnson does a tremendous job finding space and giving himself the time he needs to create offence.
As a skater, he has developed into a well-above average puck-handler who isn't afraid to go to the crease to clean up plays. He moves really well laterally, though he could stand to improve his explosiveness straightaway still, and often leaps around closing defenders to cut to the inside and get his shot off.
On the powerplay, he can setup at the top of the crease or in the high slot and can score -- covered or uncovered -- in traffic. While he struggled at times to create at even strength in the SHL there is little doubt that he was one of if not the preeminent scoring threat on the man-advantage when he was finally moved to the first powerplay unit.
Emily is worried his presence with the man-advantage might have given him point totals that were unrepresentative of his skill.
I had him ranked in a tier with other players who seem NHL ready but haven't yet proven that they can keep up. My biggest hesitation with him is how much of his points come on the powerplay. It doesn't seem like he had a huge role on his team at even strength, especially during Frolunda's cup run, which also concerns me.
Defensively he could still use considerable work in staying on his man in his own zone but Johnson does a good job getting on the forecheck in the offensive zone to try and hunt down loose pucks.
While he could stills and to look pass more often, his shot will always be what separates him from his peers and his ability to get it off effortlessly and with a low, elusive kick will help him continue to score -- even without as much time and space -- in North America.
And hey, sometimes even when he thinks shot he ends up passing...