Capitals forward Marcus Johansson was a late addition to the Swedish national hockey team early Friday morning and is headed to Sochi this weekend for the Winter Olympics.
Johansson, 23, can play wing or center as he has in Washington. His addition was made after star center Henrik Sedin (Vancouver Canucks) pulled out of the Olympics on Thursday with a lingering rib injury originally sustained Jan. 16.
Johansson has seven goals and 29 assists (36 points) for the Caps in 58 games. He is just 10 points off his career best (46) set in 2011-12.
At midweek, according to the gambling web site Bovada.com, the Swedes were 9/2 to win the gold medal. But that was before losing Sedin, their top center.
Johansson is the fifth Caps player to be named to his country’s Olympic team. He joins fellow Swedish center Nicklas Backstrom, winger Alex Ovechkin (Russia), defenseman John Carlson (United States) and forward Martin Erat (Czech Republic), who was an injury replacement for his country earlier in the week.
Before Thursday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets at Verizon Center, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took part in a pregame ceremony honoring the eight Caps and Jets players headed to the Winter Olympics on Sunday. That was before Johansson’s addition was known.
The biggest cheers were reserved for Carlson and Winnipeg forward Blake Wheeler, both members of Team USA. The crowd at Verizon Center broke into a “U-S-A, U-S-A” chant after the two men were introduced last.
Ovechkin, Backstrom and Erat also received warm ovations. Besides Wheeler, the other Jets headed to Sochi and honored, Thursday, too were goalie Ondrej Pavelec (Czech Republic) and forwards Michael Frolik (Czech Republic) and Olli Jokinen (Finland).