In yet another sign that the NHL lockout may be a long one, Capitals center Marcus Johansson has agreed to play for BIK Karlskoga, a second-tier league in Sweden, according to the team’s website.
Johansson, 22, spent most of September skating with teammates at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, but returned to Sweden in early October with hopes that Farjestad of the Swedish Elite League would lift its ban on signing NHL players to temporary contracts.
When that didn’t happen, Johansson opted to play for free with BIK Karlskoga, which has agreed to pay $5,000 per month to insure Johansson’s NHL contract.
“It feels great to be here,” Johansson told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, translated by Malin Andersson via Japers' Rink. "It’s been awhile since I’ve played now. I’m a bit bummed that things didn’t work out with Färjestad. It would have been a lot of fun to play in the SEL.”
Prior to the NHL lockout Johansson had big expectations for this season, his third in the NHL. After recording 13 goals and 27 points as a rookie in 2010-11 he boosted his offensive totals to 14 goals and 46 points last season and figured to be a top-six forward for the Caps this season.
“It’s a weird situation to be in,” he said. “It’s been hard to train. I have been doing a lot of off-ice work and spent some time with Färjestad on ice.”
Johansson is the sixth Capital to sign with a team in Europe, joining Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom [KHL], Michal Neuvirth [Czech League], Brooks Laich [Switzerland], Wojtek Wolski [Poland]. Joey Crabb has also signed to play for the Alaska Aces of the ECHL.