The Washington Capitals might have drafted a gem in 2016, as first round pick Lucas Johansen impressed during the 2016-17 season.
During the 2016 NHL Draft, the Washington Capitals traded down in the first round. They were confident they could get who they wanted. It turns out the gamble might have paid off, as the Caps drafted defenseman Lucas Johansen.
He has hockey in his blood, as Lucas is the brother of Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen. Much like his brother, he has the potential to be something special in the NHL. Johansen spent the 2016-17 season with the Kelowna Rockets, the same junior team who has produced players like Shea Weber and Madison Bowey.
The 2016-17 season turned out to be a very productive one for Johansen. He served as an alternate captain for the Rockets, leading them to a playoff spot. Johansen saw a slight drop in points, going from 49 points in 69 games in his draft year to 41 points in 69 games in 2016-17. However, he also saw a noticeable rise in his plus-minus, as it rose from +11 to +23. Johansen added eight points in 17 playoff games for the Rockets.
More from Stars and Sticks
- Alex Ovechkin will score 50 goals in 2023-24
- It’s time for Capitals fans to chill out with the Anthony Mantha hate
- The Capitals Have Several Potentially Bad Contracts
- Top 3 Capitals prospects to watch at Rookie Camp
- Top 3 undrafted invites to watch at Capitals Rookie Camp
Comparing players to NHLers is usually not a good idea. However, it’s hard not to look at Johansen’s game and see a bit of John Carlson. His offensive abilities aren’t overly impressive, but he does a lot of great things with the puck. Much like Carlson, Johansen has the tools to be a consistent producer from the blue line.
However, he needs to be more consistent. Johansen is an offensively minded defenseman and it shows in his game. He constantly makes moves to try to create scoring chances and it doesn’t always work out for him.
He seems to have all the tools you want to see in a second pairing defenseman. One day, Johansen might grow into a top pairing role. However, his defense and overall game must continue to grow if he wants to be a true top pairing defenseman. Johansen has ideal size (6’2″) and has a nice frame at 179 pounds.
Expect Johansen to spend next season with the Hershey Bears. He signed an entry level contract with the Capitals in March, which suggests he’ll be officially joining the organization sooner rather than later.
If John Carlson departs in free agency, it’s not hard to see Johansen getting playing time with the Capitals in 2018-19. However, it typically takes defensemen a little longer to develop. So something around the 2020 or 2021 season would make more sense.