Don’t Be Surprised If New Jersey Devils Protect Andreas Johnsson

Andreas Johnsson #11 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Andreas Johnsson #11 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Today, we are going to go through the biggest surprises that could come when the New Jersey Devils announce who they are going to protect in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. There are some pretty obvious protections for the Devils. Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Miles Wood, Yegor Sharangovich, and Pavel Zacha appear to be obvious candidates among the forwards. Damon Severson and Jonas Siegenthaler are the most likely candidates to be protected when it comes to defensemen. Mackenzie Blackwood is going to be protected as the goalie.

That leaves two open spots for forwards and one open spot for defensemen. It might seem obvious who the Devils plan to protect, but it might not be as obvious as one might have thought.

Most fans think the Devils are going to leave Andreas Johnsson unprotected after his unproductive first season in New Jersey. He only had 11 points in 50 games. He was supposed to prove himself as a top-six forward, but he ended the season on the bottom line and often saw himself as a healthy scratch candidate.

This would make it seem obvious the Devils would try to use the Kraken to get out of his deal. He’s one of two forwards signed beyond this season. Nico Hischier is the other. His contract obviously isn’t great, but it’s not like the Devils are in salary cap hell.

However, the Devils just traded for Johnsson, and this season was an absolute mess. The team got COVID, and there’s no telling how that impacted Johnsson’s season. They traded a decent prospect in Joey Anderson, so they don’t want it to be a completely sunk cost.

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Don’t be surprised if the Devils decide Johnsson is worth keeping around. Again, if the Devils let Johnsson go, there would be only one forward signed beyond this season. That makes for a very difficult situation for Tom Fitzgerald. He might just want some guarantees after this season.

Johnsson is better than 11 points in 50 games. That much is obvious. How much better the Devils believe he could be will make a decision on whether or not they protect him this summer. This would mean leaving two of Janne Kuokkanen, Michael McLeod, or Nathan Bastian unprotected, but stranger things have happened in these scenarios.