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Johansson brings playoff experience, consistency to Sabres

Forward eager to help Buffalo end postseason drought after signing two-year contract

by Heather Engel / Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Marcus Johansson believes in the Buffalo Sabres.

Between their other offseason moves and the top-end talent already in place, the 28-year-old forward decided to sign a two-year, $9 million contract with the Sabres on Saturday. It has an average annual value of $4.5 million.

"I like what Buffalo's got going," Johansson said. "It's a really young and exciting team. I'm looking forward to it and once it came down to it, I was really happy I ended up going to Buffalo."


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It was a tale of two seasons for the Sabres (33-39-10) last season; they won 10 straight games from Nov. 8-27 but struggled in the second half and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But Johansson is confident they can be more consistent.

"Last year they showed in the beginning of the year how capable they are of playing good hockey," he said. "You've just got to keep it at a good level throughout most of the season, through all these highs and lows. Try to keep everyone positive and keep everyone moving forward even though you have rough patches and everything.

"With all these young players being so good, they learn from everything. I think with all the talent they have, it's going to go well."

Video: BOS@STL, Gm3: Johansson tacks on late PPG

Johansson joins the Sabres after playing in the Stanley Cup Final with the Boston Bruins, who lost to the St. Louis Blues in seven games. He was traded to the Bruins by the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 25 and had 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Johansson has played in the postseason in eight of his nine NHL seasons, including the past four straight.

Buffalo hasn't qualified for the playoffs since 2011, the longest active drought in the NHL. In a quest to end that trend this season, the Sabres have added postseason experience to the roster, including Johansson and defensemen Brandon Montour and Colin Miller.

"You've got to make sure everyone is comfortable," Johansson said. "You have to make sure everyone is open about things. It has to be a positive vibe. You have to want to move forward together. It's a game of mistakes and you've got to be able to make mistakes and move forward and not dwell too much on things that go wrong.

"It's such a long season. If you get everyone on the same page and work together, and if there are mistakes you work on them together and you learn from it. Move on, especially with a young group like this, that's very important."

He's looking forward to bringing his experience to the Sabres, especially after a conversation with new coach Ralph Krueger, who was hired to replace Phil Housley on May 15.

Video: Marcus Johansson signs a two-year deal with Sabres

"He seems like a really, really good person and seems like a good coach, a players' coach. Very welcoming right from the start," Johansson said. "I think the ideas he has the and the way he wants to play hockey too, for the younger guys is exciting. It's something that I'm excited to be a part of too."

Where Johansson slots in among the forwards has yet to be determined. He entered the NHL as a center but has since shifted to left wing. The Sabres have a surplus of left wings, including Jeff Skinner, who signed an eight-year contract on June 7. Jimmy Vesey, acquired from the New York Rangers on July 1, can play left or right wing.

"Whatever they need me to do, I'm up for it," Johansson said. "That's why everyone comes to play, you want to help the team win. That's my main focus."

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