Tyler Johnson vs. Ryan Johansen

by Rick Roos on November 19, 2014


Tyler Johnson or Ryan Johansen – why perceived fantasy hockey value is not always reality…



This week’s contest features two young forwards who’ve been among the talk of the fantasy world this season – Tyler Johnson and Ryan Johansen. Are we witnessing true “point per game” breakouts for both, and which one is the better own? Pay close attention – your fantasy team’s success might depend on it!


Career Path and Contract Status/Cap Implications

Despite four years of WHL excellence where he saw his points increase each year, Johnson wasn’t drafted, likely owing to his 5’9’’ size. But the Lightning saw enough in Johnson, now 24, to ink him to a three-year deal in 2011. He spent nearly all of the next two campaigns in the AHL before sticking with the Lightning last season, on his way to posting an impressive 50 points.

Johansen, 22, turned heads in his first WHL season, ultimately leading to him being selected 4th overall in 2010. After a successful season back in the WHL he joined Columbus for 2011-12, but struggled (21 points in 67 contests); and honing his craft in the AHL during the lockout didn’t help, as he posted only 12 points in 40 NHL games for 2012-13. But like Johnson, he exploded last season, in his case to the tune of 63 points.

Johansen had a well-publicized contract battle with Columbus this summer, culminating in a three year deal with a $4M/year AAV and Cap Hit. Johnson is starting his own three year deal, with a slightly more modest $3.33M AAV/Cap Hit.


Ice Time

All 2014-15 data is through November 16th (representing 17 games for Johansen, 18 for Johnson). And Johnson’s 2012-13 data isn’t charted, since he played only 14 NHL games.



Total Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)


19:37 (R.J.) – 1st

17:25 (T.J.) – 5th

3:53 (R.J.) – 1st

1:55 (T.J.) – 6th

1:11 (R.J.) – 9th

2:04 (T.J.) – 3rd


17:38 (R.J.) – 2nd

18:47 (T.J.) – 5th

2:38 (R.J.) – 2nd

2:30 (T.J.) – 6th

0:42 (R.J.) – 7th

2:01 (T.J.) – 2nd


16:05 (R.J.) – 9th

2:19 (R.J.) – 6th

0:05 (R.J.) – 10th (tied)


12:44 (R.J.) – 11th

1:40 (R.J.) – 9th

0:03 (R.J.) – 15th


No one should be too surprised that Johnson’s overall and PP Ice Times are down for 2014-15, as he was logging bigger minutes last season when Steven Stamkos was injured. In fact, following Stamkos’ return, Johnson saw less than 17:25 of total Ice Time in ten of Tampa’s remaining 18 regular season games, on his way to scoring only four points in his final 12 contests. That, plus his point production in relation to Ice Time for 2014-15 thus far (7th in points per 60 minutes at 5×5 as of November 17th among forwards who’d played 100+ minutes at 5×5), make it imperative to check whether his success this season is being influenced by unsustainable good luck.

And while the Lightning are deep enough for Johnson to have quality linemates despite not being on the team’s “first line,” it’s concerning that he’s averaging under 2:00 on the PP but above 2:00 of SH Ice Time. That’s because in 2013-14, teammate Ondrej Palat was the only NHL forward to score more than 48 points despite those same Ice Time limitations. And Palat’s 5×5 PDO was 1040, which was tied for fourth highest among all forwards who played 80+ games last season. That’s all the more reason to focus closely on Johnson’s luck-based metrics.

Meanwhile, Johansen’s uptick in points seems to make more sense. That’s because not only is his total Ice Time up by 1:59 per game, but nearly two thirds of the added Ice Time has come on the PP.

But there are two key things to also keep in mind. As of November 17th Columbus was averaging 4.058 PP opportunities per game (tops in the NHL); and last season no team finished with more than 3.58 per game, so his PP Ice Time will naturally go down. Also, the likely return this week of Brandon Dubinsky (2013-14 Ice Time averages: 18:46 total, 2:36 PP) to the Blue Jackets line-up could lead to Johansen’s Ice Times shrinking. But even if/when these things occur, his productive Ice Time (defined as total Ice Time minus SH Ice Time) still likely would remain higher than Johnson’s; and unlike Johnson, Johansen would undoubtedly remain on the top Columbus ES and PP lines.


Secondary Categories




(per game)


(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)


(per game)

PP Points

(per game)


(per game)


0.47 (R.J.)

0.22 (T.J.)

0.64 (R.J.)

0.66 (T.J.)

0.23 (R.J.)

0.61 (T.J.)

2.88 (R.J.)

2.83 (T.J.)

0.64 (R.J.)

0.16 (T.J.)

11.17 (R.J.)

6.22 (T.J.)


0.52 (R.J.)

0.31 (T.J.)

1.39 (R.J.)

0.67 (T.J.)

0.47 (R.J.)

0.45 (T.J.)

2.89 (R.J.)

2.20 (T.J.)

0.24 (R.J.)

0.12 (T.J.)

8.44 (R.J.)

7.48 (T.J.)


0.30 (R.J.)

1.05 (R.J.)

0.35 (R.J.)

2.10 (R.J.)

0.02 (R.J.)



0.36 (R.J.)

1.01 (R.J.)

0.36 (R.J.)

1.47 (R.J.)

0.06 (R.J.)



Had this match taken place last year, it would’ve been a clean sweep for Johansen, who held an edge (in some cases – like PP Points, Hits, and Shots – a significant one) over Johnson in every stat. And although it’s still early for 2014-15, some of Johansen’s advantages have eroded (Hits and Shots – both now dead heats) or turned into deficits (Blocked Shots). The news is positive for Johansen in some areas, however, as he’s now far outpacing Johnson in FOW and PP Points. But since things like Hits and Blocked Shots often diminish for good as a player takes on a more offensive role, it might be that Johansen’s edge over Johnson in multi-cat leagues is forever vanishing right before our eyes.

Shots is an area worth focusing on more closely, as Johansen’s pace is on par with his per game average from last season, while Johnson’s is up considerably. Since Shots are normally so closely tied to points, it suggests that both players will finish 2014-15 with points production that’s likely as close as it is now. The big issue is just how many points they’ll produce, and looking at luck-based metrics below should go a long way toward helping answer that question.


Luck-Based Metrics

Note that Johnson’s 5×4 IPP for 2014-15 isn’t included, since he’s yet to meet the 50 minute minimum.



Personal Shooting Percentage

PDO (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)


12.2% (R.J.)

11.8% (T.J.)

964 (R.J.)

1029 (T.J.)

81.8% (R.J.)

93.3% (T.J.)

76.9% (R.J.)

N/A (T.J.)

53.6% (R.J.)

51.2% (T.J.)


13.9% (R.J.)

13.3% (T.J.)

1011 (R.J.)

1029 (T.J.)

84.1% (R.J.)

65.3% (T.J.)

66.7% (R.J.)

58.8% (T.J.)

45.1% (R.J.)

52.1% (T.J.)


6.0% (R.J.)

996 (R.J.)

62.5% (R.J.)

20.0% (R.J.)

50.6% (R.J.)


9.1% (R.J.)

996 (R.J.)

65.4% (R.J.)

57.1% (R.J.)

53.0% (R.J.)


The good news for Johnson owners is his luck-based metrics aren’t off the charts. His PDO is within the 970-1030 “normal” range, and even his 93.3% IPP at 5×5 was only tied for 57th as of November 17th among forwards with 100+ minutes at 5×5. So yes, while these suggest he might not be able to sustain his above point per game pace, he’s also not likely to see the bottom drop out from under him.

For Johansen, his data shows even less influence of luck in his current numbers, although we need to keep in mind that most of these metrics are 5×5 and 11 of Johansen’s first 20 points this season had come on the PP. But even there we see his 5×4 IPP is a reasonable 76.9%, although as noted above Columbus received the most PP opportunities this season as of November 17th, so if they begin to get fewer opportunities Johansen’s production would fall, especially considering that his 5×5 IPP (and his Shots per game average) is comparable to what he posted last year on his way to 63 points.



In the DobberHockey Expert League Draft, Johnson was selected 232nd, while Johansen went 115th despite not even being signed at the time. It was a similar story in Yahoo drafts, with Johansen being grabbed as the 29th centerman, versus 96th for Johnson. And even after Johnson’s amazing first fifth of the season and despite his dual position eligibility (both are C and RW eligible), as of November 17th Johnson was only owned in 78% of Yahoo leagues, compared to 93% for Johansen.

Johansen’s combination of being a former top five draft selection, having a more productive 2013-14 season, and hitting the ground running for 2014-15 despite not signing a new deal until October, all have contributed to his current cost being as high – if not even a bit higher – than his actual value, especially in light of his PP output being likely to diminish.

As for Johnson, I’m a bit taken aback to see him owned in barely more than three of every four leagues, especially since only one player – Filip Forsberg – had more points than Johnson as of November 16th and yet was owned in fewer than 90% of leagues, and even the more unproven Forsberg was owned in 82%. It’s likely a case of folks feeling Johnson’s scoring pace will regress, or clinging to the fact that he was undrafted, or opting to stick with slower starting but higher profile players.


Who Wins?

Those expecting all sorts of warning signs (ala a few weeks ago for Tyler Toffoli) that Johnson won’t be able to continue at anything near his current pace were likely just as shocked as I was in seeing that significant regression does not appear imminent. Instead, Johnson seems poised for a healthy jump in production from last season – most likely to finish in the 65-70 point range, with at least as realistic of a shot at 70-75 points versus 60-65.

Given this, and the fact he remains unowned in just under 25% of Yahoo leagues, Johnson still qualifies as a value vs. cost bargain. Simply put, folks don’t truly believe he’s for real; and that’s something astute fantasy GMs should move past, since his salary and his sustained production have demonstrated that he’s no fluke and will remain in the Tampa mix, even if not as a “first line” player. The remaining caveat is his PP Ice Time vs. SH Ice Time; but so far that too isn’t acting as a barrier.

That’s not to take anything away from Johansen, whose point per game production thus far is not only a great progression from last season but quite impressive given how others have notably struggled (Derek Stepan last season) after waiting until just prior to the regular season to sign a contract. He’s clearly the real deal, and probably has a higher single season points ceiling than Johnson.

In terms of picking a winner, hopefully I’m not setting myself up for another major incorrect prediction, but all things considered I think Johnson triumphs in this match. For one, whatever modest benefit Johnson has received from luck-based metrics is likely matched by Johansen’s added production that’s stemmed from Columbus’ NHL leading number of PP opportunities. And Johnson has the advantage in cost vs. value, especially now that it seems Johansen’s output has slowed in many key multi-cat areas. What’s more, Johansen is already close to being “maxed out” in Ice Time and quality linemates, whereas things can only improve for Johnson in that area, although the presence of superstar Steven Stamkos does act as a somewhat of a barrier. Sure – Johansen probably has a better shot of maybe someday hitting the 90 point mark, but that’s still far from a guarantee and Johnson’s ceiling isn’t too much lower.

My advice to those looking to get Johnson in trade (if he’s not somehow still on the waiver wire) would be to wait until he has a slowdown for a few games – enough to prompt concern in his owner – and then pounce, as the time to get him for a reasonable price might not recur. Meanwhile, if you already have Johansen there’s no harm in holding onto him, as he’s set to continue to do well. But you might want to look into trading him for Johnson now, since Johansen’s perceived value is higher enough that you could likely get Johnson plus another asset in return, and the days of that being the case are likely almost over.


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