There’s nothing too exciting here, beyond how happy he is, but if you’ve never followed the Marlies, you might be meeting Andreas Johnsson for the first time. Oh, and that photo up top is from yesterday’s Marlies game, so clearly he got the shave before you show up message.
Maybe a little refresher is due on who he is, though.
As he says in the video he shoots before he passes, but he’s also very gifted at the ultimate passing game, the power play.
He is 23, and with a late birthday doesn’t turn 24 until well after the next season starts. He shoots left and plays primarily left wing, but has played enough right wing on the Marlies and in Sweden to be comfortable at it. He played for Frölunda in Sweden, the same team Carl Grundström plays for now.
His father, Jonas Johnsson was the captain of Frölunda for four years beginning in 2004, and he now is the head coach of Vita Hästen in the Allsvenskan league. Andreas has an older brother who also plays hockey back home on a different team.
He was, as you likely remember, taken in the seventh round of the 2013 draft, the same year Frederik Gauthier was taken in the first. His position in the draft wasn’t some major failure by all scouts; as Fulemin talked about in the T25, he had suffered from asthma, which has been sorted out now. He’s also not very big, so he didn’t stand out from his peers just by being bigger and stronger than them. In the season before he was drafted, he’d only played in seven SHL games, spending the rest of his time in junior. Usually, a Swedish draft pick needs to be good enough at 17 or 18 to play high up the lineup in the SHL to be considered a good prospect. Not everyone follows the usual course.
Johnsson is one of those elusive forwards who zooms around the offensive zone finding seams and making plays; better yet, once he gets where he’s going he’s got a nasty shot on him. Even better than that, he’s dogged in pursuit of the puck, regularly streaking into the slot to pounce on a loose puck and rifle it. Johnsson will score pretty goals. Johnsson will score garbage goals. Johnsson does not discriminate in his devouring goal hunger.
In one of the Marlies twenty question’s features from last year, he came right out and said, he never scores pretty goals, mildly contradicting Fulemin above. He seems okay with his role of tip-artist and garbage man. He’s such a different temperament to Grundström, and yet there is some similarity there.
Johnsson is very naturally gifted at the power play, and he’s very obviously worked hard at it. He played on one of the best power play units I’ve ever seen. While that star-studded monster the Penguins put on the ice (that the Leafs neutralized handily) is impressive, Johnsson’s old Frölunda unit was so good that the average time on ice per game for the second unit is more than a minute less than the first, the first scored so often.
They were so good, that they warped the team, in a way. Frölunda could, and did often, win games on just power play success. And this led to the very legitimate concern that the forwards like Johnsson who were getting all their points that way might not be very good at five-on-five play.
His years in the AHL have put that concern largely to rest, and his season this year, particularly the latter half of it, has shown a player who can and does shoot at an NHL rate.
Kevin, who is a good guy to go to for a scouting report on the Marlies said this last summer:
Johnsson’s calling card is his wrist shot, and he looks ready to become a triggerman on an NHL powerplay. He can receive a pass and fire his shot in one motion, and this ability to score off a one-timer beats opposing goaltenders before they have time to set up and react. He also boasts above average speed, and he should have no problem keeping up at the NHL’s pace of play.
Johnsson is not too physically imposing, but he regularly showcased a strong lower half and a touch of grit. He displayed a willingness to fight for positioning in the slot, and he won a reasonable amount of puck battles for a player who is slightly undersized. I do not see him as a top-end playmaker, but he could earn a spot at the NHL level if he continues to play a well-rounded game and make the most of his chances.
I was a little more tempered, based largely on the way he’d wilted in the playoffs two years in a row in Sweden, but if his AHL career has shown anything, it’s that he never takes a game off, not these days. Whatever was up then, isn’t now, and he’s done a thing that very few players do: grown his game dramatically at pushing 24.
Andreas Johnsson via Prospect Stats
He had 10 power play goals last year and has eight so far this year. He’s also in fourth place in the AHL for points and was 61 last year. There are some other stats that indicate as well as you can get out of the AHL that he’s shooting more.
Now, the big caveat on all of that fabulous looking stuff is that he is the top line offensive specialist on the Marlies. He has not been played down the lineup with Frederik Gauthier and Rich Clune like Kasperi Kapanen was last year. He has played some PK, but he hasn’t become a specialist (best on the leafs?) at it like Kapanen. Johnsson is going to go into the Leafs lineup as the 4LW.
That said, lucky him, he gets to do it with Tomas Plekanec at centre, and his old linemate from this season, Kapanen on the right side. Mike Babcock has a way of not throwing a guy in at the deep end either, so he’ll get a real chance to succeed.
Now as an extra, you can watch Timothy Liljegren and Andreas Johnsson do this year’s twenty questions. You have to be a Leafs or Marlies insider to watch this, so it’s up to you if you want to sign in.
The highlight is when Johnsson tells Liljegren about the fight he was in last year.