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"A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish. "
NY • United States • 34 Years Old • Male
Kim Johnsson was brought to the Minnesota Wild to attempt to give us the offensive dynamic from the blueline that has never been there.

The Wild shelled out $19M over 4 years for his services. This after he missed the majority of the previous season due to a string of injuries, though only a couple years after chipping in 13 goals and showing real promise in Philadelphia.

At the time of his signing, Wild GM Doug Risebrough said:

“We are very excited to add a player of Kim’s caliber to our blueline. Adding his offensive skills is another step towards assembling the team we believe will compete at a high level in the coming seasons.”

Offensive skills.

Going out on a limb here, but I would assume those offensive skills are the same ones that allowed Kim to score at a rate of 0.44 points per game in his NHL career through last season.

Certainly there are some intangibles (like the ability to make the right breakout pass) that do not show up in the stats, but 36 point defensemen (82 x 0.44 = 36.08) are in high demand in the NHL.

To wit: in the 2005-2006 regular season there were only 42 defensemen with 36 or more points. There were just 55 defensemen who averaged 0.44 points per game or more (with 47 or more games played - the number Kim appeared in).

Obviously if there were 42 guys with that number of points in the league there is enough for at least one per team. The Wild's defensive points leader last season? Kurtis Foster. With 28 points (58 GP).

So clearly there was a need for offensive production from the blueline on the Wild and, judging by Risebrough's comments above, Doug (reasonably) thought that Kim was a big part of the solution to that problem.

The Wild has always been a solid, responsible team in the defense department. Will be at least as long as Lemaire is in charge. We demand complete defensive buy-in from our forwards which certainly helps the defensemen, and all of that helps the goalies. Our NEED on defense was not in the defensive defenseman area. We traded Willie Mitchell (a classic stay-at-homer) for Martin Skoula and Shawn Belle for goodness sake! We jettisoned Filip Kuba and his 25 points last season because it wasn't enough! We played then-rookie Kurtis Foster more than 19 minutes a game last season, for the love of God! Ours has been a Sisyphusian quest for offense from the defense corps since Bettman parted the Red Sea and brought hockey back to it's (American) homeland.

“We are very excited to add a player of Kim’s caliber to our blueline. Adding his offensive skills is another step towards assembling the team we believe will compete at a high level in the coming seasons.”

Kim's line this season: 76 GP, 3 G, 19 A, 22 pts, 0.29 PPG.

There are many Wild fans who have found Johnsson's season to be a disappointment. Not defensively, mind you. Disappointing in terms of offensive output. I think this is an entirely reasonable opinion.

And yet, the irascible and grizzled-veteran Minnesota sports writer Patrick Reusse offers up this incredible tell-all in today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune.


The highlights:

From Mike Ramsey (Wild defense coach, former Miracle on Ice team defenseman, Minnesota native, good guy):

"We didn't get him for goal scoring. We got him for goal protection."

From Risebrough:

"We paid more for Kim Johnsson because we knew he would bring things to us that we didn't have a year ago... What's wrong with Gabby or Demitra or Rolston getting the puck on their tape once in a while? That's what Kim Johnsson gives us -- moving the puck ahead with some purpose, not just to get it out of the zone."

And from Johnsson himself:

"I have a different role here. In Philly, I always was on the power play. Here, Roli [Rolston] is on the point, and I might get the second unit... Less time in our end means fewer goals, right? We led the league in goals against. That can't be a bad year."


How do we get from "Adding his offensive skills is another step towards assembling the team we believe will compete at a high level in the coming seasons" all the way across the spectrum to "We got him for goal protection"??

Sorry, Doug and Mike, but that simply doesn't wash. You told us you brought him in for offense that he didn't produce. Now you're telling us he's here for defense, which he's okay at (-4 for the season), but was not really a need of ours. AND you paid $5M per year for, what? A Swedish Filip Kuba?? ???

Kim has averaged 0.54 points per game in the playoffs in his career. And if he turns in a solid run here (defensively AND offensively) then most of this will be forgotten. But the sum total of his contribution in game one was a two-point take down and pin on Nik Backstrom that allowed Penner to score the winning goal.

Meanwhile, the Wild spin machine continues to work overtime.
Filed Under:   wild   doug risebrough   kim johnsson  
April 13, 2007 12:19 PM ET | Delete
I would have to respectfully disagree that this is being spun to look better than it is. I think starting the rush is the main thing they wanted Johnsson to do from an offensive perspective without compromising defensive play. They knew they were getting a good skating, defensively sound player that had more offensive potential than what they had. We do have some highly skilled forwards and quickly and accurately getting them the puck to make the plays is what I think they want from the blueline.I would say that this season has been a slight disappointment for Johnsson, but I think he is in an adjustment period with this system. I'm really interested to see what he brings to the table next year. I expect him to get better here on both sides of the puck and I think if he does we will see that in our number of chances created from the rush, but not necessarily a dramatic increase in points.I'm not saying these aren't valid points, but I think the problem here is that initially, the Wild generalized in their statements about Johnsson, saying he was brought in for offense. Most people will immediately assume that means goals, assists, points.I guess I just didn't take it that way. I looked at it more as he was expected to help trigger more offense than put up a certain number. So, if anything, I think the Wild management may have erred by not being more specific about what they liked about Johnsson. To some he falls short of their expectation and to others he either meets or falls slight short of them.
April 13, 2007 12:19 PM ET | Delete
Makes you dizzy, doesn't it?Johnsson has had very offensive skills. I've been offended by them all year.But he did have a great assist on Penner's goal in Game 1.
April 13, 2007 12:44 PM ET | Delete
Ski: good points. In light of that, I suppose I have more of an issue with Ramsey's POV than Doug's comments. But then again, Rammer has actively worked with Kim all season, so I suppose he's in a better position to decide where Johnsson can help us most, and if he's NOT the offensive player we thought we was - regardless of what Doug meant - so be it. But then we definitely overpaid for him (hind sight being 20:20, of course).
April 13, 2007 12:59 PM ET | Delete
As far as Ramsey's comments, I guess I take that as him saying, "If he scored 50 points and was lousy defensively, would anyone be any happier?" His primary job is defense and he has been relatively steady. At this point, we are no doubt paying more for what he brings to the team than we would like. If it doesn't get better his contract is going to be a big problem. But, I sense all new players that come into Lemaire's system have a little difficulty adjusting unless they have played for him before. I'll give Johnsson about 1/4 of next season to prove he is worth the money. Then, I will be rather annoyed that we are saddled with that contract.
April 13, 2007 1:43 PM ET | Delete
April 13, 2007 4:05 PM ET | Delete
I buy Johnsson's point about not being on the power play, but given his history and the amount we're paying him, he should be doing more offensively in my mind.
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