By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Marcus Johansson didn’t get the long-term, high-dollar July 1 payday many expected him to following a strong 2019 postseason, and instead found himself settling for a two-year, $9 million contract on the sixth day of NHL free agency.
The deal is actually a slight pay decrease from the $4.583 million cap hit Johansson skated with for the last three seasons. But the discount didn’t come from the cap-strung Bruins, but rather the division rival Buffalo Sabres.
We have signed forward Marcus Johansson to a two-year contract with an AAV of $4.5 million. pic.twitter.com/l4WcIEyb1j— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) July 6, 2019
Acquired from the Devils in exchange for two draft picks (a 2019 second-round pick and 2020 fourth-round pick), Johansson recorded one goal and three points in 10 regular-season games with Boston, but shined in the postseason, with four goals, 11 points, and 36 shots on goal in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
While the Bruins initially discussed going temporarily over the cap to sign Johansson to a new deal to keep him as Charlie Coyle’s go-to winger, the Bruins did not make a July 1 offer to Johansson, and seemingly moved on. Such is life when you have just $10.1 million in cap space with three RFAs (forward Danton Heinen and defensemen Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy) yet to sign, as well as the immovable David Backes ($6 million cap hit through 2020-21) contract on the books.
So now comes finding a way to replace the 28-year-old forward.
“I think Danton Heinen, depends on which side we play him on,” Sweeney began when discussing how to replace Johansson. “If you think whether Karson [Kuhlman] or [Zach] Senyshyn, whoever, Brett Ritchie, obviously guys who are right shot if we play lefty/righty and move Danton over, I think fits into that same milk of player, creative wise. Marcus wasn’t a shoot-first guy either, and Danton’s not. We’d like him to shoot a little more volume, if he can.”
But Sweeney knows the B’s have options beyond those names.
“We’ll see when Anders Bjork comes back online. We’ll see what Peter Cehlarik does. I think we have, as I referenced, some guys internally. Paul Carey’s another guy that’s played a lot of games in the National Hockey League with his skillset. You never know where guys are going to come back at and assimilate with. You know, Paul being able to play with Charlie Coyle, let’s see,” Sweeney continued. “Let’s see where it goes. I’m not rubber stamping any of that, but I do believe we have enough depth that was an area that showed up in this year’s team that was very valuable.
“Hopefully, we recognize that we’ve addressed some of that when we couldn’t go fishing in the deepest of waters.”