Johansen has had no shortage of critics develop over the past couple of seasons, and even lacked confidence from the front office as they left him unprotected in the Seattle expansion draft last summer.
Along with Matt Duchene, Johansen was basically tagged as an overpaid, overrated player that we should beg other teams to take off our hands. Well, that didn’t happen and Johansen responded with arguably his best season in a Nashville Predators uniform.
Johansen a vital part to Nashville Predators top-six
Johansen has remained a mainstay in the revitalized top-six of the roster, but did see his linemates shuffled around. We saw him matched with Philip Tomasino and Luke Kunin over the past few games of the regular season.
You can’t help but wonder where the Predators would be if Johansen had indeed been selected in the expansion draft. Yeah, his huge contract would be off the books, but I’m not so sure they would’ve made the playoffs without him.
Johansen posted his third-best season goal total with 26, and his second-most behind his 33 goals he scored in 2013-14 with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He also scored 26 goals for Columbus the following season before being traded to the Nashville Predators the season after that.
What is even more impressive is that Johansen made a huge impact on the Predators’ top-ten power play that showed considerable improvement from their 23rd-ranked power play last season.
Johansen posted 11 power play goals, which was tied for second on the team with Josi, and only trailing Duchene’s 16 power play goals.
It’s not just Johansen’s scoring that has made this a highly successful season for him. He maintained his all-around contribuations by continuing to be a vital distributor with 37 assists, 691 faceoff wins, and the top shooting percentage on the team at 22 percent.
My only reservation is if this is a little fool’s gold. Johansen’s shooting percentage is sixth-highest in the NHL among skaters with a minimum of 300 minutes, per MoneyPuck.com.
You have to assume that number will come down next season. Have to hope it doesn’t come craashing down in the playoffs as Johansen’s career shooting percentage is just over 12 percent.
Everyone has been focused on Duchene’s electrifying improvement this season, and rightfully so. Duchene finished as the team’s top goal scorer and had many more critics heading into 2021-22.
We just can’t forget about the impact Johansen had made on the Nashville Predators’ success and overperformance to get them back to the postseason, despite what virtually every expert predicted in the preseason.
I’ve got Johansen as a key x-factor in their first round series against the Colorado Avalanche. The power play is going to have to produce a lot of goals, and Johansen is a vital part of that success.
At least for this season, Johansen has silenced many of his critics and can really make a big statement if he shows out in these playoffs.