There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who recognize Marcus Johansson as a top-six forward and those who choose to be wrong.
|16:29||Average time on ice per game|
|53.2%||Shot attempt percentage during 5v5|
|50.7%||Goal percentage during 5v5|
Johansson’s on-ice shot-attempt percentage in 10-game running segments, according to War on Ice:
I’ve seen you, RMNB commenters. I’ve watched and waited as a large sect of you refused to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that number 90 in red is a legitimate top six forward. I’ve dabbled in debate with some of you here and there. But mainly, I’ve watched and waited. When it came time to divvy up the season reviews here on RMNB, I had only one request: Give. Me. Marcus. Finally, Judgement Day is here. I come not to argue or fight with those of you who are wrong about Johansson. Instead, I come to enlighten.
I’ll be frank. Before the start of the season, I wasn’t sure where Johansson fit in the team’s long-term plans. At times, he was maddening, showing so much promise but not able to fulfill it. Then, at other times, he looked ready to take the next step to cement his role in the top six on this team. Good news: In 2014-15, Johansson took the next step.
385 forwards played 410 or more minutes in the 2014-15 season. The science isn’t exact, but a player finishing in or above the top 50 percentile in major categories, (192nd or better), could roughly be considered a top six forward. Here’s where Johansson’s season ranked in some major categories.
You get the point. Johansson’s production and possession is at a top-six level, and it’s not even really close.
Johansson was arguably the Caps’ most improved player this season. The biggest difference in his game was that he shot the puck more, leading him to set a career high in goals. Johansson increased his shot attempts per 60 from 6.86 in 2013-14 to 11.9. The increase of 5.04 shot attempts per 60 was the eighth biggest of any NHL forward. Critics might say that his individual shot generation only ranks in the 49th percentile, but those critics should look at the big picture, and not get hung up on this one number. For example, teammate Nick Backstrom, clearly a top-six forward, falls in the 20th percentile.
Johansson’s role on the power play can’t be overlooked either. The best power play in the league is not the best power play in the league without Johansson’s key role on zone entries. That sure seems like a quality a top-six forward would possess, eh?
And yet, still some of you will claim that he’s not consistent enough to be considered a top sixer. What I think you really mean when you say this is “he’s not as good as Backstrom or Alex Ovechkin.” If Johansson produced more “consistently”, he’d be an elite NHL forward. He’s not. But there’s a middle ground between not being elite and not being a top-six forward. That middle ground is where Johansson falls.
What did you think of Johansson’s season? Do you think he took a step forward and firmly established himself as a top six forward? Or do you choose to be wrong?
Read more: Japers Rink
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