One of the most interesting pieces for the 2010-11 Washington Capitals is highly-touted center Marcus Johansson. Our Brian Murphy named him as one of six young guns to watch today.
Johansson has speed, he's smart and he's defensive minded, which could earn him solid minutes on the penalty kill. A lot of 19-year-olds get their first glimpse of NHL action and wilt under the pressure, but Johansson has continued to play well and look the part so far this preseason.
Even if he's not a mainstay on the roster this season, by all accounts he's going to be around for a while once he does earn his way into the rotation. Backstrom is the top-line center for good reason, but there appears to be an opportunity for a youngster like Johansson to lock down the second- or third-line center role.
Today at Capitals Media Day, general manager George McPhee went one step further, comparing Johansson positively to fellow Sweedish player Nicklas Backstrom. Via Samuel Chamberlain of TBD.
"He's ahead of where Nicky Backstrom was," McPhee said. "We were more careful with Nicky when he came up."
McPhee is saying Johansson is ahead of where Backstrom was at 19, not that he's better than Backstrom now. Regardless, that's high praise for Johansson and a sign that he may be one of the young guns that pushes the Capitals over the top.