Andreas Johnsson figured it would be an interesting off-season with NHL teams maneuvering around a flat salary cap, yet he was still caught off guard when the Toronto Maple Leafs traded him to the New Jersey Devils over the weekend.
The Maple Leafs sent Johnsson and his annual $3.4-million cap hit to the Devils in exchange for forward Joey Anderson.
“I didn’t really expect to be traded,” Johnsson said Tuesday during an appearance on Good Show. “I think it happened pretty fast honestly if I think back to it. The cap space is tight there so things were going to happen for sure but I didn’t expect it.”
Johnsson, 25, was selected by the Maple Leafs in the seventh round of the 2013 NHL Draft. The winger spent two seasons with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies before making the jump to the NHL.
In 2017-18, Johnsson played a key role en route to winning the Calder Cup with the Marlies. He scored 10 goals and 24 points in 16 games for the Marlies during that post-season run and it earned him the Jack Butterfield Trophy as AHL playoff MVP.
The following season saw Johnsson finish eighth in Calder Trophy voting as top NHL rookie after scoring an impressive 20 goals and 43 points in 73 games. That production resulted in the four-year, $13.6-million contract he signed prior 2019-20.
“Of course, when I signed here for four years I thought for sure I would be here for four years, but it’s hockey and things are going to happen,” Johnsson said.
The Swedish winger only managed to score eight goals and 21 points in 43 games during the regular season in 2019-20 and he battled injuries, including a knee injury that required surgery.
Johnsson said he created some “very special bonds” during his time in Toronto and added that it’ll become much easier adjusting to a new team and city once he eventually gets to New Jersey, puts on the uniform and meets his new teammates.