Wanted: Detroit Red Wings for robbery (feat. Albert Johansson)

While the Detroit Red Wings have taken steps in the standings, it’s apparent that their prospects have suffered. None more so than Albert Johansson. 
2022 NHL Draft - Round One
2022 NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Albert Johansson was robbed

I feel like it’s not unreasonable to request players get experience in the NHL prior to being required to play in it full time. Much like any job, there’s a necessary training period even at a call center. Why is a prospect expected to make the jump to the NHL full-time without any guard rails? 

For context, before an injury sidelined Johansson in the 2022-23 season, Johansson played in 53 games. He earned 5 goals and 10 assists for a total of 15 points across these games. Depending on who you asked, it was a toss up between Johansson and Simon Edvinsson as to who was more NHL ready. 

Of all the young defensemen I saw play in 2022-23, Johansson played the most mature, consistent game. Throughout most games, from the beginning of the season to his injury, Johansson played a reliable game. 

Meaanwhile, Edvinsson started off a bit rougher, but he really found his game in North America mid December 2022. I think the slight nod would have gone to Johansson based on waiver status, the former Grand Rapids Griffins coaching staff, and the overall season if not for the injury.

The injury was more than inopportune. With a slew of veteran signings made by the Detroit Red Wings before the 2023-24 season, it seemed like few chances would arise to take a spot at any point in the campaign. Couple it with the fact that teams tend to call up the players who they know (ones who have played in the NHL previously unless they really messed up) and Edvinsson’s elevated play this season, Johansson seemed destined to remain in the AHL all season. 

Unlike Edvinsson, Johansson hasn’t had an opportunity to play in the NHL outside of the preseason games he was afforded. Johansson was robbed of this opportunity. 

Please keep in mind, the preseason games that Johansson played, he was paired with AHL-level defense partner(s) and sheltered, relatively low minutes. The Detroit Red Wings essentially combine the big and AHL clubs and play half of each roster every game.

Could Johansson have outplayed Edvinsson for the call ups at the end of the year? Maybe, and I suppose the survival of the fittest supports this theory, but there was opportunity to play Johansson a game or 2 for the betterment of the team and player.

Again, I get that the goal is always the playoffs, but now we find ourselves in a spot where Johansson should never have been.