It didn’t take long for the other shoe to drop here in D.C. Moments after finalizing an eight-year contract extension with center Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Capitals have sent forward Marcus Johansson to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a second- and a third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
The second-round pick in the deal originally belonged to Florida and the third-rounder originally belonged to Toronto.
Johansson was originally Washington’s first-round pick (24
th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He spent seven seasons with the Capitals, totaling 102 goals and 290 points in 501 career games. The 26-year-old Johansson signed a three-year contract extension with the Caps last summer, and he followed up with his best NHL season in 2016-17. He set single-season career bests with 24 goals and 58 points last season.
In the last 10 days, the Capitals have spent a total of $139 million on contract extensions for pending unrestricted free agent winger T.J. Oshie, restricted free agent defenseman Dmitry Orlov and RFA center Evgeny Kuznetsov. Those three deals account for a combined $18.65 million annually against the salary cap, and by the time the Kuznetsov deal was announced on Sunday evening, it was obvious that the Caps would have to move salary in order be able to re-sign RFA forward Andre Burakovsky and RFA goaltender Philipp Grubauer. Johansson’s annual salary cap hit is $4,583,333 for the next two seasons, and that number comes off the books for the Caps as a result of this deal.
Moving Johansson to the Devils achieves that goal while also adding a pair of picks to Washington’s futures arsenal. The Caps now have seven draft picks for next summer’s draft; they’re missing a fifth-rounder but they currently hold two third-round picks.
The departure of Johansson from the District also opens up a hole in the team’s top six, perhaps making it more likely that Jakub Vrana opens the season in Washington. Vrana, a 21-year-old winger, is heading into the final season of his three-year entry-level contract in 2016-17.