Boston Bruins

Apr 27, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Marcus Johansson (90) during the second period in game two of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Bruins struck gold with trade deadline acquisition Marcus Johansson.

Originally acquired from the Devils in Bruins general manager Don Sweeney’s attempt to fill the void to the right of the Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci combination, Johansson instead found a home to Charlie Coyle’s left on the Black and Gold’s third line. The combination, complemented by Danton Heinen acting as the defensive-zone stabilizer on the right side, finished the postseason as perhaps the B’s most consistent threat throughout their run to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, and Johansson’s postseason run concluded with an impressive four goals and 11 points in 22 games. Johansson was the B’s top threat when it came to clean offensive-zone entries in a car wreck of a Cup Final against the Blues, too, adding another noticeable positive when it came to assessing his nightly impact.

But now comes the tricky part: keeping the 28-year-old pending unrestricted free agent in town on a new contract.

At the end of a three-year, $13.75 million ($4.583 million cap hit) contract signed in Washington but traded to New Jersey and then Boston, there’s no doubt that Johansson is due for a substantial raise. And considering his age, as well as his injury history, this is 100 percent his last chance to truly cash in on what’s been a relatively impressive career when upright, with 120 goals and 334 points in 588 games to go with 13 goals and 41 points in 94 career postseason contests.

And it’s certainly trickier than just having a meeting to ‘work something out’ like Johnasson told reporters at break-up day.

Entering the offseason with $14.3 million in projected cap space, Sweeney’s summer will be headlined by new contracts for restricted free agents Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy. It wouldn’t be anything even close to a shock if the duo checks in at a combined $10 million on their new deals. That can change based on long-term deals versus bridge deals, but getting each player at market value following their 2019 postseasons appears to put them in this range. Heinen, whose 81 points in 162 NHL games make him the 15th-highest scoring member of the 2014 NHL Draft class, is also a restricted free agent. The Bruins are also prepping for new contracts for Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and perhaps even Torey Krug for Summer 2020.

In essence, money’s tight. And it begins with that RFA duo of Carlo and McAvoy on the point.

“I told Marcus that along the same lines, with the RFA side of things that we have some things we need to clarify internally before I can definitively tell him [whether or not they’ll re-sign him],” said Sweeney. “We found that Marcus was a really good fit for our hockey club. I was proud of how he got injured, came back and elevated his play, was really invested, thought he fit in really well with Charlie [Coyle] coming in, gave us some options on the power play, was a really good fit.”

Capable of playing both the left and right side, and experienced as the net-front presence on the power play, Johansson is a definitive upgrade over Heinen (as well as tweeners like Anders Bjork) when it comes to the B’s need for top-six talent in the pinch to slot with Krejci or with Patrice Bergeron should the Bruins move David Pastrnak away from that line.

But it’s borderline impossible to imagine the Bruins being able to successfully keep Johansson in town without some sort of other cap-crunching move like a David Backes or Krug trade — both seem unlikely, but for different reasons — which would likely have to happen before other teams can begin making their pitch to the Swedish forward.

“Good person, great teammate and got us to a certain point,” Sweeney said of Johansson. “Wish we could’ve finished it off.”

Now comes seeing if it’s possible for the Bruins and Johansson to give themselves another chance at exactly that.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.