ARLINGTON, V.A. — Back in July, some were questioning the Washington Capitals’ decision to re-sign Marcus Johansson. And so far, he has provided an answer.
Johansson garnered some interest from other clubs over the offseason, given his strong two-way play and versatility that allows him to play all three forward positions. However, No. 90 chose to return to the District, where he had started his career and came back at last year’s NHL trade deadline after a 2017 trade led to four and a half seasons away from the club.
“When I was talking to Washington, other teams got involved. And I just felt like, ‘No, this is where I want to be,’” Johansson said. “Especially after coming back here last year. This was the right decision for me hockey-wise and for my family as well. There was never a doubt.
“It feels like coming home when I come here… [I was so excited to see [all of them],” Johansson said. “It felt like no time has passed. I felt like I’m at home, and that’s because of the guys and everything around here. I’ve always loved it here.”
While general manager Brian MacLellan, the front office and locker room were thrilled to see the 32-year-old come back for another season, critics questioned the re-signing amid an influx of forwards and several prospects waiting for their chance. And to open 2022-23, Johansson has silenced them and has been one of D.C.’s best players to kick things off.
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No. 90 has brought a lot to the table, providing depth throughout the lineup as a trusted top-6 and bottom-6 presence that has chemistry with pretty much anyone. Not only that, but Johansson has brought life back to the Capitals’ power play, which has started to find its footing and generate more opportunities and goals after starting slow.
“The thing with Marcus is he knows the position well. He was kind of ground level when we started it, and I think he has the ability to not only make plays from that goal line position [but he puts himself] in a position to get rebounds or at least get the puck back,” assistant coach Blaine Forsythe said of No. 90. “The biggest thing for Marcus is entry.”
Not only has his presence paid off, but “JoJo” is also producing for Washington. He has two goals and three assists through six games and his five points are tied for the team lead in what has been a tough 3-3-0 start to the Capitals season. Johansson also played hero and called game for Washington to cap off an impressive Capitals comeback win against the Los Angeles Kings and has four points in his last two games.
However, when it comes down to it, Johansson isn’t focused on his individual numbers. While confidence always helps, he is more focused on helping the Capitals live up to their potential and get back to their high standard of play.
“It’s felt good. Don’t really think about the points too much,” Johansson admitted. “Sometimes they come in bunches, and sometimes you have to work really hard for them and then it’s not going your way. It’s always fun to contribute, especially when you win. I mean, I’d trade all of the points for more points for the team. It’s always fun to contribute a little bit.”
The Caps have found their Mojo in the 3rd! Marcus Johansson gives Washington the 4-3 lead late in the 3rd. pic.twitter.com/e4lisOJvAc
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 23, 2022
For head coach Peter Laviolette, though, Johansson’s play at both ends is something that makes a major difference and makes him a key role player and regular in the lineup.
“Really good two-way forward… I do think he’s detailed and smart defensively, but I also think that he’s a skilled player,” Laviolette explained. “I mean, he’s a power-play guy. So for me again, just good depth. I really like the signing because it gives us depth.”
Overall, though, Washington’s 2009 first-rounder is just happy to be back “home.”
“This is where I want to be. This is where I want to play hockey, with these guys and in this town,” Johansson smiled.