Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson said he is finally healthy and completely recovered from a broken right wrist sustained during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.
After a full summer of workouts, Johnson, 26, is "stronger than I've ever been," he told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday. "I can't wait for this season, to really show what I can do. I've got to get back to the player I know I can be."
The aftermath of the injury limited Johnson to 14 goals and 38 points in 69 games last season, a decline from the 29 goals and 72 points in 77 games he had in 2014-15. The injury affected his ability to shoot and take faceoffs. He had no strength or flexibility in the wrist and was unable to do a pushup until January.
But Johnson, who can become a restricted free agent after this season, showed no limitations during the Lightning's preseason opener Tuesday, a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. He had an assist, three shots on goal and a hit in 15:21 of ice time, including a forecheck when he pinned 6-foot-3, 205-pound Hurricanes defenseman Josh Wesley to the end boards, setting up a goal.
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"It just makes the game a lot more fun," Johnson said. "Last year there were a lot of times where I wasn't having fun playing. That's tough. But I had fun [Tuesday]."
Johnson also impressed Lightning coach Jon Cooper with a burst of speed he did not have in the first three months of last season.
"He was trucking uphill all year," Cooper said. "To see him now, you just see his demeanor and the way he is, it's night and day compared to the way he came into last year's camp."
Johnson's production improved last season after returning from an upper-body injury on Dec. 28; he had 10 of his 14 goals after the injury and scored seven times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the Lightning were eliminated from the Eastern Conference Final by the eventual Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games.
"I still think I could have been at another level," Johnson said.