Depth forward Johan Larsson was a strong deadline pickup for the Washington Capitals in 2022. Playing 14 games on the fourth line, Larsson helped the Dowd-Hathaway duo some of their best on-ice performances. After Larsson’s deal with the Caps expired on July 13, the 29-year-old Swede was linked to the Penguins.
But the deal didn’t materialize. Larsson remains a free agent today, his agent confirmed to RMNB.
At 5 PM on free-agency day, Elliotte Friedman tweeted, “Sounds like Johan Larsson to PIT,” but the deal never happened. The Penguins made no announcement, and no further rumors about the deal were publicized.
That same hour, the Penguins announced they had signed former Penguin Josh Archibald, who most recently played for the Oilers. Archibald, 29, plays on the opposite side from Larsson, though he could be considered filling a similar roster spot. The team later traded for depth center and part-time NHLer, Ryan Poehling, who might be another Larsson alternative.
Larsson is still a free agent — and an attractive one at that. Projected by Evolving Hockey to earn $1.9 million on a one-year deal, Larsson brings a ton of value as a depth forward with strong defensive talent who can also flex between wing and center. HockeyViz estimates Larsson’s defensive impact at minus-15 percent, meaning he brings down the opponent’s attack 15 percentage points compared to replacement level.
There are still lots of top-level free-agent forwards available on the open market. Larsson ranks fifth in average ice time among the top options, behind big names like Kadri, Bergeron (expected to re-sign with Boston), Stastny, and Kessel.
Meanwhile, Washington’s apparent strategy is to replace Larsson from within. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, 24, appears to be the most likely candidate, though Henrik Borgstrom, on a two-way deal, may also compete for the spot, along with Joe Snively.
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