Lucas Johansen is a veteran of being disappointed.
Hershey has become a second home for Johansen, who was the final defenseman cut from Washington Capitals training camp a season ago. After being selected in the first round of the 2016 draft, Johansen has played more seasons in the AHL (six) than games in the NHL (three).
“Been seven years pro now, going on,” Johansen said. “Had a lot of experience, especially last year with the playoff run there. I think my game’s at a great level right now and I just want to keep building on that and make the team.”
This could very well be the year that is different for Johansen. A fractured hand will sideline Joel Edmundson through the first few games of the season, creating an opportunity on the left side of the Capitals’ blue line.
But it’s not exactly Johansen’s job to lose. He’s one of four vying for the gig, making every second Johansen is on the ice feel akin to him being under a microscope.
“Out there now, I feel like I belong and I can definitely make an impact on the game — a positive impact,” Johansen said. “When you’re a young defenseman, there’s a lot of things you’ve got to learn. With the experience we’ve had in the playoffs over the years in Hershey, now I definitely feel like I can handle my own and really be an impactful player. Just a matter of translating that to this level, which I feel I’m definitely doing.”
In Johansen’s favor is familiarity. Compared to Vincent Iorio, Alex Alexeyev and Hardy Haman Aktell, Johansen has been with the organization the longest. Plus, he’s the only of the four who has played under Spencer Carbery before, back when he was the bench boss in Hershey from 2018-21.
“I definitely know what he expects from players,” Johansen said. “He’s an intense guy and he wants to win. I think he’s definitely shown that so far in how we want to play. Having him for a couple years in Hershey, we had some great times and I’m looking forward to playing for him.”
Johansen will see his first game action of the preseason when the Capitals host Detroit on Thursday — his first chance to make a big impression.