Marcus Johansson was expected to headline a new look up the middle for the Wild after the forward was acquired in an offseason trade that sent the team's former No. 1 center Eric Staal to Buffalo.

But when he reported to training camp, Johansson received a different assignment.

His response?


Johansson is currently stationed at left wing, working next to Nick Bonino and Kevin Fiala.

And it's possible he ends up being more helpful to the Wild as a rover than solely a centerman — a versatility that coach Dean Evason credits to Johansson's character.

"It has everything to do with his personality," Evason said Tuesday on a video call after the Wild's second day of camp practices.

"He's just a very easygoing guy. 'You want me to play here? Sure. You want me to play there? Sure, no problem. Kill penalties? Yup. Power play? No problem. Faceoffs.'

"And that was right from Day 1."

Evason isn't referring to Johansson's start with the Wild.

This was the impression Johansson made on Evason when Johansson was breaking into the NHL with Washington 11 years ago and Evason was an assistant with the team at the time.

Although Johansson was a center earlier in his career and debuted with the Capitals at that position, he eventually switched to wing and spent most of his NHL minutes there until last season when he was back up the middle with the Sabres.

"I'm just more comfortable with wing because I've played there more," he said, "but I'm totally fine playing either.

"I grew up playing center, and now I've been wing for eight years or so.

"It doesn't matter too much, but I'm happy to start as a wing and we will take it from there and see what happens."

Whether or not Johansson sticks at wing could depend on the effectiveness of his line with Bonino and Fiala.

The three practiced together for the first time in camp Tuesday after Fiala was held out of Monday's session as a precaution.

"I'm fine," Fiala said after the skate. "Great to be back with the guys. Very exciting."

A left shot who had nine goals and 21 assists in 60 games last season, Johansson is excited about the line.

"Everyone saw last year what Kevin can do," said Johansson, 30. "He's such an unbelievable talent. He's good with the puck, and he makes plays. He makes plays from nothing, basically, which is a pretty good skill to have.

"I've played against [Bonino] for so many years it seems like, and he's such a great two-way center. He's great with the puck, and he's smart. He's on the right side of the game most of the time.

"I feel like the three of us like to play with the puck and hold on to it, and Kevin can score goals. I think it's a great combination, and hopefully we'll get off to a great start and build on our confidence and our chemistry."

Still, the Wild has the option of going back to the drawing board and moving Johansson to center, and Evason believes he will use Johansson in various spots.

Johansson certainly has experience in changing roles.

"His attitude has allowed him to have success to this point," Evason said, "and it'll continue to allow him to have success going forward."