Johansson amazes

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:39 PM ET


 It's a sure bet Calle Johansson will get excited about the prospect of Alexander Ovechkin going to the Washington Capitals as the first pick in the NHL entry draft in June.

 Just not now.

 Johansson, a 37-year-old Maple Leafs defenceman who is on leave from his job as a scout with the Caps, has more pressing concerns. Johansson left the slower pace of scouting on March 9 and signed with the Leafs to try to win his first Stanley Cup.

 "I just found out (about the Caps winning the draft lottery to get the first pick) and right now it is not on my mind," Johansson said. "I am where I want to be (entering the playoffs). I feel really good about it."

 Johansson played in just the final eight games of the regular season for the Leafs, and although much was rightly made of the addition of Brian Leetch to the blue line, Johansson's signing could turn out to be a minor stroke of genius by general manager John Ferguson Jr. Johansson's smart decisions have been welcome in the defensive zone and he has taken some of the load off Tomas Kaberle, who has failed to meet expectations this season. That Johansson, who had six assists, has been able to pick up without missing a beat has been an eye-opener to his teammates.

 "I am surprised that someone could take that much time off and make it look like he has been playing a regular shift throughout the year," Leetch said. "It has been amazing."

 Even coach Pat Quinn has been impressed.

 "He has done much better than you would have expected," Quinn said. "You try to get your timing and get used to being in the right spots. His experience helps him there."

 That's what Johansson, whose plan to be sitting at the Capitals draft table in a couple of months has not changed, is banking on.

 "I have been around quite a bit," Johansson said. "Hopefully I can trust myself and lean back on that. I'm just going to do whatever they ask me to do. It is a team game and I am one piece of the puzzle, whether I play five minutes or 20 minutes or whatever. It's a great team and I have been able to fit in pretty good."


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