In the wake of the Blackhawks trade with the Wild, let’s look at how newcomer Kim Johnsson stacks up against Cam Barker this year.
Barker: 23 (24 on April 4)
Johnsson: 33 (34 on March 16)
Barker: 6’3 223 lbs
Johnsson: 6’1 187 lbs
“Soft J’s” in Last Name
Average Time on Ice
Short-Handed Time on Ice (average/game)
So what do we take away from these numbers? Let me first point out that, in December of 2008, Johnsson served as captain of the Wild. In the ten years he’s been on the earth longer than Barker, he’s played in the 2002 Olympics for Sweden and 43 playoff games; Barker has played in 17 playoff games, all of which were last year.
A few numbers jump off the page. The two that strike me the most are the blocked shots and average short-handed time on ice per game. Johnsson figures to replace Barker on the third defensive pairing with Brent Sopel and should, in theory, play a more significant role in penalty killing.
In a perfect world, Brian Campbell wouldn’t step on the ice short-handed, but because Niklas Hjalmarsson has been banged up, he’s seen more time on the PK lately. The fact that Johnsson averages almost 2:30 per game in short-handed ice time is significant because it will help Sopel stay on the ice further into the playoffs. Despite Sopel’s legendary performance on the PK in overtime against Dallas earlier this week, expecting him to block four shots and play all 120 seconds of a penalty kill in overtime in late April or early May isn’t realistic.
The blocked shots totals are significant because, right now, the Hawks are taking a beating getting between pucks and the net. Every night, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Sopel and Hjalmarsson all seem to leave the ice in pain at some point because they sacrificed their body to keep the puck away from the net. By adding another guy that averages more than one blocked shot per night, coach Joel Quenneville can have more confidence that a veteran will position himself to take one for the team.
Another number that is impressive is the difference between the two in penalty minutes. Considering that Johnsson is averaging more than ten minutes per game more than Barker and has been called for just over half as many penalty minutes means the Hawks are getting a smarter player. The biggest headache Barker gave Blackhawks fans (other than the two guys drafted in front of him) has been stupid penalties. Johnsson’s numbers indicate that he won’t take the dumb penalty.
Adding Johnsson should, as Stan Bowman said when he met with the media on Friday, give Quenneville more options. His presense on the roster should help limit the minutes Keith, Seabrook, Campbell and Hjalmarsson are skating down the stretch, and should put the team into fewer short-handed situations.
Johnsson makes the Blackhawks a better team on paper. But paper can burn, and chances can fade if performance doesn’t match ability and challenges aren’t met. Hopefully this move is the right spark for a team looking to bring home the Stanley Cup for the first time in almost 50 years.