The Bruins ended Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline with one more piece.
Instead of one of the flashier names on the market, the Bruins shipped a 2019 second-round pick and 2020 fourth-round pick to the Devils for left winger Marcus Johansson.
The 28-year-old, who has spent time with the Devils and Capitals, has 12 goals and 15 assists this season. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and carries a $4.5 million cap hit. The Devils will retain 40 percent of his salary.
While a left handed shot, Johansson has played right wing in the past and early in his career played some center, but has primarily been a left wing.
“There’s versatility there,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “Marcus represents a lot of versatility and production in a top nine role. It’s something we felt, coming down the stretch, we still could use that.”
The Bruins were widely speculated to be interested in Mark Stone, eventually sent to Vegas from the Senators towards the end of the deadline, and Wayne Simmonds went to the Predators moments after the deadline passed.
“We’ve been exploring things for a while at different levels,” said Sweeney. “Going back to the acquisition of Charlie Coyle. Trades don’t happen just because you pick up the phone today. A lot of times it’s just periodic conversations.... We were in on a bunch of things we were exploring.”
It seemed the Bruins were going to stand pat as 3 p.m. passed, but the Johansson trade came in during the 11th hour.
The Bruins added Coyle in exchange for Ryan Donato and a fifth rounder to Minnesota on Wednesday ahead of the deadline. Coyle played in his first game with the Bruins on Saturday in St. Louis and will make his home debut tonight.
During Sweeney’s conference call with the media the next day, he said the Bruins might have been done dealing; instead, Johansson is a much smaller move than any they had been connected with leading into the deadline.
Sweeney expressed a reluctance to give up top prospects — hinting at top defensive prospect Urho Vaakanainen — and citing not surrendering a first-round pick was “really important.”
With Coyle sliding in as the third line center, and head coach Bruce Cassidy confirming on Monday they would like to keep him there for now, the Bruins were in the mix, reportedly, for several scoring wingers, the team’s other glaring need.
Johansson would presumably be the second line winger for the rest of the season with Coyle staying put with the third group.
The Bruins went 4-0-1 on their recent west coast trip, all without leading scorer David Pastrnak. They end the trade deadline in second place in the Eastern Conference with 81 points, three points ahead of the Maple Leafs with one more game played.
Other Bruins trade targets were moved before the deadline. Ryan Dzingel went to Columbus earlier in the week, Gustav Nyquist to San Jose on Sunday night, and Kevin Hayes to Winnipeg early on Monday.
Stone was the last shoe to drop, going to Vegas.
Johansson had a limited no-trade clause of five teams, with Boston obviously not on the list. He was concussed by a hit from Brad Marchand in early 2018, and had some comments about the hit afterwards, saying “It was stupid. There’s nothing else to say about it. There was no point in doing that. There was no hockey play whatsoever. It’s sad to see there are still guys out there trying to hurt other guys. It’s sad. It’s stupid. I hoping it doesn’t come to him ending someone else’s career before it’s enough. It’s not why we play the game. There are obviously situations where to try to hit someone to make the hockey play and it goes wrong. Then there are plays like this that has nothing to do with hockey. It’s sad to see. I guess I’m unfortunate to be on the receiving end of that.”
It wasn’t enough to not want to come to Boston, however. He joked with Sweeney, “I’d rather play with Marchand than against him.”
Johansson has 12 points in his last 13 games for the Devils. He comes in with 290 career NHL points in nine seasons.