Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Andreas Johnsson burst onto the scene last month, impressing both fans and the team’s coaching staff almost immediately.
The 23 year old Swede selected by the Leafs in the 7th round (202nd overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft scored a goal and had seven shots on goal in just his second career NHL game back in March.
I mean… how can you forget that smile?
Since then the kid has been in and out of the lineup as Leafs head coach Mike Babcock works through his regular rotation of bottom six forwards. Despite the limited ice time, Johnsson has been productive though. The kid has two goals and three points in nine games with the Leafs and certainly has not looked out of place playing in the defensive zone. He’s a strong skater with incredible offensive instincts and is not afraid to drive the net if given the opportunity. Many Leafs fans seem him as a potential future replacement for pending free-agent James van Riemdsyk. It remains to be seen whether or not the kid can fill fulfill those lofty expectations, but regardless he’s got legitimate potential.
So, with the Leafs preparing for Thursday’s opening 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs game against the Boston Bruins and with Johnsson seemingly on the outside of the team’s lineup looking in, what’s the plan? Will the kid get a shot? Will they send him down to the AHL’s league leading Toronto Marlies for another shot at the Calder Cup? TSN’s Kristen Shilton caught up with Babcock today in an attempt to get an answer:
Fair enough. It’s clear that Babcock’s focus is on Game One. Anything past that can be dealt with when the moment calls for it. Still… you can’t help but feel for Johnsson. The kid is probably itching to play some playoff hockey, either for the Leafs or for the Marlies.
Unless a spot opens up due to injury or some truly awful play, don’t expect Johnson to see any time with the Leafs in the immediate future. A healthy Calder Cup run with the Marlies wouldn’t be the absolute worst thing in the world, would it? If nothing else, the kid has proven that he has the ability to dominate at the AHL level with a remarkable 26 goals and 54 points in 54 games with the Marlies this season.