We look at the potential effect of winger Andreas Johnsson’s concussion on the Toronto Maple Leafs, both on and off the ice.
Most NHL fans are aware the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to upgrade their blue line, prior to the Feb. 25 trade deadline. And given their focus on finding a top four defenceman, the return package will be high.
This means the Leafs are prepared to offer their first round draft pick for this year, to show how serious they are. In addition, they will need to consider young prospects and players from their current roster.
One of the players who has been mentioned as a possible trade chip, is Andreas Johnsson. In this respect, his inclusion in any potential trade package has now been compromised after he was ruled out of Wednesday’s game versus the Washington Capitals with a concussion.
Johnsson suffered the concussion during Sunday night’s matchup with the Arizona Coyotes. In many respects it summed up the 4-2 loss against one of the poorer teams in the NHL.
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The question is, how long will the highly rated winger be out of action altogether, as he undergoes concussion protocol? The team is helped somewhat, by the fact they will not play again until Feb. 2, thanks to the All-Star break.
However, they are no guarantees Johnsson will be back for the next game against the Detroit Red Wings. With more attention than ever surrounding any type of head injury, teams have to be extra careful, combined with every player’s recovery period being different. (And keep in mind this is not the first concussion of Johnsson’s hockey career.)
Even if we go with the best case scenario of the 24-year-old being back on the ice for Feb. 2, this still creates some issues for the Leafs. The All-Star break is a prime time to discuss trades, but other teams could well be reluctant to consider a player who is still recovering from a concussion.
In addition, whenever Johnsson does return to action, he might need some time to get back into game shape. Every extra day he is absent between now and Feb. 25, makes it that much harder to put together a package which includes him.
Of course, we’re not saying you should completely rule out the 2013 seventh round draft pick being moved. Plenty of deals get completed at the trade deadline.
Having said all this, it might be a blessing in disguise that Johnsson is out at the moment. (Not that you would ever wish an injury on anyone, especially when it’s related to the head.)
Yes, the Leafs want to upgrade the blue line and strengthen their position for the playoffs. However, do they really want to sacrifice one of their top young talents, who played a significant role in the Toronto Marlies winning their first ever Calder Cup in 2017-18?
Johnsson offered glimpses of his talent last season, during his first 15 games at the NHL level, with another six appearances during the playoffs (which included a goal and an assist). After a tough start this season, he has now settled comfortably into the everyday lineup and proved he belongs, even seeing playing time with Auston Matthews.
The Sweden native is an excellent skater with a high hockey IQ. He’s creative and displays full confidence when shooting the puck.
Even concerns about Johnsson’s size at the top level have mostly been unfounded (although it couldn’t hurt to continue building up his strength). In addition he is still developing, and looks set to enjoy a prosperous and long career in the NHL.
The question is, will Johnsson get to continue thriving and growing in Toronto after Feb. 25? We’ll find out for sure in the next month, but it seems increasingly likely following his concussion
How would you rate Johnsson’s overall play so far this season? If you were in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ position, would you be looking to move him prior to the trade deadline? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.