Albert Johansson signs extension, but what's next for the Red Wings prospect?

Albert Johansson signed a one-year contract extension this past Wednesday, but what's next for the aging prospect?
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It likely wasn't the extension many had been anticipating, but Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman did check one thing off his 'to-do' list this past Wednesday. Detroit extended defenseman Albert Johansson to a one-year, two-way deal.

Johansson, 23, is no longer waiver-exempt, so it's unlikely he will find his way back to Grand Rapids for fear of losing him to waivers for nothing after spending so many years developing the Swedish-born product after drafting him with the 60th overall pick in the second round of the 2019 NHL Entry Level Draft.

The 6-foot, 185-ish pound defender has spent the past two years playing in Grand Rapids. The swift-skating defenseman really made strides this past year, recording six goals and 21 points over 66 games while maintaining a plus-7 rating. He also chipped in with three assists in nine playoff games. That followed a five-goal, 15-point season and a minus-7 rating the year prior.

Before his arrival to the AHL, Johansson played three seasons with Farjestads BK Karlstad of the Swedish Hockey League and won a championship in the final year. He recorded five goals and 25 points through 52 contests. That season (2021-22), Johansson also accumulated eight points, including a pair of goals in 19 playoff games.

Albert Johansson to start 2024-25 with the Detroit Red Wings?

The Detroit Red Wings still need to extend Moritz Seider, their top defender and restricted free agent, along with budding star forward Lucas Raymond. That will leave the Red Wings with $16 to $18 million to spend in free agency, whether that's new pieces or retaining their own pending free agents.

After Seider is extended, the Red Wings will have eight NHL or NHL-ready defenders under contract, including Simon Edvinsson and Albert Johansson. Earlier this year, Yzerman mentioned that he'd be open to bringing back all of Detroit's pending free agents but it's not a reality. One of those players who will likely find themselves elsewhere is Shayne Gostisbehere, who excelled anchoring the top power-play unit but struggled mightily at even strength. If Gostisbehere isn't retained by Detroit, I would like to see a player like Jake Walman or Simon Edvinsson have an opportunity to fill the void. Seider will surely see the bulk of the work on the first unit early on, but I am intrigued by the offensive upside of the two left-handers mentioned.

Following that trio, there is Ben Chiarot, Jeff Petry, Justin Holl, and Olli Maatta, who make up the eight. Something has to give. Sure, Detroit can carry eight defenders, but Holl and Petry are roadblocks, and at the very least, one of them needs to be shipped out. Of course, many of us wouldn't complain if either ever wore a winged wheel jersey again, but could we get so lucky? Holl has two years left on his deal, which averages $3.4 million annually. Petry is entering the final year of his deal, which Detroit only owes $2.3 million. Head coach Derek Lalonde seemed to like what he got from Petry last season, although he performed terribly in the month of March.

Although he's anything but popular among Red Wings fans, Petry wasn't 'good' but wasn't 'as bad' as many of us made him out to be from October to February. Again, that's not saying much, but with his current contract status, I'd expect him back next year, and Holl either traded or bought out. So that would put Detroit to seven active defenders and create an option to add another, whether it's Gostisbehere or someone else. Again, I don't see Detroit comfortable keeping Johansson in Detroit only to scratch him. I'd expect to see Johansson paired with Petry or Maatta next season, at least early on, to see what he's got on the third unit.

The alternative, you most likely won't want to hear. Maybe Yzerman uses a player like Johansson as part of a trade package this summer to address the team's goaltending issue or a depth forward with scoring upside.