The Seattle Kraken have added another top-nine forward, signing Marcus Johansson to a one-year, $1.5MM contract. The unrestricted free agent joins the expansion team after one year with the Minnesota Wild. Kraken GM Ron Francis released a short statement:
Marcus plays a fast game and brings us another veteran presence with a significant amount of playoff experience. His speed, skill and versatility will help our forward group.
Johansson, 30, was one of the few proven players left in free agency, even if he is coming off a poor year in Minnesota. The veteran forward has played nearly 700 regular season games in the NHL and has twice broken the 20-goal mark. This season with the Wild he recorded just six goals and 14 points in 36 games, but he has been valued for his versatility and two-way play in the past.
Things haven’t gone that well since he left the Washington Capitals organization in 2017 though. Johansson was traded to the New Jersey Devils for two relatively high draft picks, and immediately ran into injury trouble. He’d play just 29 games in the 2017-18 season, redirecting 14 points. The next season was better, but he’d be flipped to the Boston Bruins at the deadline when New Jersey was out of it. It’s in Boston where he flashed his high ceiling again, recording 11 points in 22 playoff games. That postseason performance landed him a two-year, $9MM contract from the Buffalo Sabres, which–perhaps unsurprisingly because of the struggles Buffalo has endured–didn’t go well.
Now on a one-year deal at a low cost, Johansson bears all the markings of a potential bounce-back player. There will be plenty of opportunities for offensive minutes in Seattle and he’s still young enough to take advantage of them. The fact that he has experience at all three forward positions will only help head coach Dave Hakstol as he’s filling out a lineup card, which will likely always have Johansson’s name somewhere on it.
The Kraken still have plenty of cap space to spend and this is exactly the type of chance they should be taking. Even if the team struggles to put it all together in year one, players like Johansson can be easily flipped at the trade deadline for a future asset.