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Johnsson aims to produce more for Maple Leafs with new contract

Forward signed four-year deal in June, scored 20 goals last season

by Dave McCarthy / independent correspondent

TORONTO -- Andreas Johnsson has some security with a new four-year contract, but that doesn't mean the Toronto Maple Leafs forward is content.

"I want to take a bigger step from my last season," the 24-year-old said Friday. "I want to score more points and take on a bigger responsibility on the team. I'm not putting numbers in mind, but I want to beat my records from last year."

Johnsson, who was selected in the seventh round (No. 202) of the 2013 NHL Draft, had 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in 73 games last season, his first full one in the NHL, but his consistency was not where he wanted it to be. 


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"From time to time I was pleased with my season last year, but I felt like my highs were high, but lows were too low," Johnsson said. "I really want to get more even, more consistency in my game."

He had three points (two goals, one assist) in his first 18 games and was a healthy scratch on several occasions. It was not until he had a hat trick on Nov. 24 against the Philadelphia Flyers that Johnsson really began to flourish. He finished with 40 points (18 goals, 22 assists) in his final 55 regular-season games and had four points (one goal, three assists) in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games. 

"[The slow start last season] is in my mind," Johnsson said. "I want to have a better start this season than I did last. I've tried to be as prepared as I can be. Now I have a full season under my belt and I know what to expect from it. It was a little bit longer summer for me this time, so it was a long time to prepare. I feel like I'm able to be healthy and was able to work on my body and mind. I feel like I'm coming stronger into this season than last."

Johnsson, who could have become a restricted free agent July 1, signed a four-year, $13.6 million contract ($3.4 million average annual value) on June 28. 

Video: BOS@TOR, Gm3: Johnsson goes upstairs for PPG

"In one way, it's good to know the team believes in me (with the long-term contract) but in other ways it's still up for me to get a bigger spot on the team, so it's up to me to prove it on the ice," Johnsson said. "That was my goal to sign a big contract and I'm happy with what I signed with. It's a little bit different this time than last year where I had to prove myself right away, so I'm happy. I don't know how it will affect me during the season because I've never had a long contract like this before."

He moved throughout the lineup last season but ended it playing primarily on a line with center Auston Matthews. Johnsson said coach Mike Babcock has not indicated where he will start this season, but he would be quite happy to reprise his role at left wing on Matthews' line.

"Well that would be great, I wouldn't argue that," Johnsson said. "I wouldn't go into (the) coach's room and complain. Overall, he's a great player. You just give him the puck and try to get open space and he will find you or you give it to him and he'll shoot it in the net."

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