Marcus Johansson had an impressive rookie season. The 20-year-old Swedish center put up 13 goals and 14 assists in 69 games, seeing his role and popularity increase with the Capitals organization. Toward the end of the season, he had established himself as a key player on the second or third line as well as a fix on the special teams.
That said, Johansson started slow. He put up only five points in his first 23 games, but he would go on to put up 22 points in the final 47. The 2009 first rounder had a slow adjustment to the North American game, but once he fit in he dominated.
Johansson should continue his impressive development into next season. He'll battle for a permanent spot as the team's second line center, and he should win that fight. To try to predict how he might do for himself, we can look at how other players in similar situations with similar rookie point totals improved into their sophomore season.
Marcus Johansson 2010-11 69 GP - 13 G - 14 A - 27 P
Evander Kane 2010-11 66 GP - 14 G - 12 A - 26 P
Ryan O'Reilly 2009-10 81 GP - 8 G - 18 A - 26 P
Darren Helm 2009-10 75 GP - 11 G - 13 A - 24 P
Josh Bailey 2008-09 68 GP - 7 G - 18 A - 25 P
All of those players put up similar numbers in their first full NHL seasons. Now, if we look at their sophomore seasons, we might get a look at what Marcus is capable of next year
Marcus Johansson 2011-12
Evander Kane 2010-11 72 GP - 19 G - 24 A - 43 P
Ryan O'Reilly 2010-11 74 GP - 13 G - 13 A - 26 P
Darren Helm 2010-11 82 GP - 12 G - 20 A - 32 P
Josh Bailey 2009-10 73 GP - 16 G - 19 A - 35 P
All of the players had similar roles to Johansson did with the Caps in their rookie seasons, and with the exception of Ryan O'Reilly, they all improved significantly year-to-year. That said, there are a few other factors that will affect Johansson's performance this season.
The first is the fact that he is likely to continue that developmental curve from last year. That means he won't experience the same slump at the beginning of the 2011-12 season. If he played to his second-half form all last season, he would have totaled 32 points in those 69 games. That equals 38 games over an 82 game season. He is no longer comparable to the players mentioned above.
The second factor is that, if he manages to hold down that second line spot, he will play with better linemates. He spent the majority of last season alongside Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr. The two combined for 46 points. Next year, his linemates should be Alexander Semin and Troy Brouwer. Those put up 90 points together. Again, his numbers will improve.
Finally, reports suggest Johansson is visibly more buff entering this year. He has evidently worked out a lot the past summer, and is coming back stronger and heavier. He will be more able to hold his own against his bigger NHL peers.
The result of those factors?
Johansson will see significantly improved stats in 2011-12. With the better line-mates and the more physically adapted game, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility to see the Swede put up numbers upwards of 20 goals and 50 points. He will continue to become on of Washington's most loved athletes.
It will be an exciting year for Marcus Johansson.
Follow Jake Ware on Twitter at @JacobWare95