With the organizational depth on defense, the Aaron Johnson signing is an interesting deal for the Preds. Johnson has 225 games of NHL experience, which ranks fourth among team defensemen (Francis Bouillon
– 566 games; Ryan Suter
– 393 games; Shea Weber
– 320 games). It also creates a very crowded field for the last few NHL roster slots. Bouillon, Kevin Klein
, Ryan Parent, Suter, and Weber would appear to have spots locked up. Alexander Sulzer is on a one-way contract and Cody Franson, coming off a strong rookie season, is negotiating a new contract. Add in Jonathon Blum
, coming off an impressive first pro season in the AHL, Roman Josi
, making his North American debut this season, Teemu Laakso
, who made the NHL team out of camp last season, and possibly Ryan Ellis
, who was eye-opening in Training Camp last season (but is not eligible to play in the AHL so would have to make the NHL or return to his Junior team), and the competition in Camp should be very heated.
David Poile hinted as much last week when talking to Tom Callahan
in the wake of the Patric Hornqvist
signing. Poile stated that while no veterans like to lose their job, he feels there are a lot of young players that are ready to grab positions – specifically mentioning Blum and Josi.
As for Johnson, he’s an established mobile offensive defenseman who moves the puck well. He’s got a reputation as a good teammate, so if he doesn’t stick with the NHL squad out of camp, Johnson would seem like a strong veteran influence in the AHL. But don’t quickly discount Johnson’s chances to make the NHL roster out of camp. Bouillon, Klein, and Parent are more defensive oriented defensemen and with Coach Trotz openly stating he needs to see more production from the power-play unit, Johnson could well challenge Franson as an option along the point for the second power-play unit.