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Preds Sign Free Agent Defenseman Aaron Johnson

by Press Release / Nashville Predators
Nashville, Tenn. (August 31, 2010) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed free-agent defenseman Aaron Johnson to a one-year, two-way contract worth $550,000 at the National Hockey League level and $105,000 at the American Hockey League level.

Johnson, 27 (4/30/83), split the 2009-10 season between Calgary (22 games) and Edmonton (19 games), posting a career high in goals (4) while tying a personal best in points (10). The 6-1, 208-pounder also a averaged career high 15:39 of ice time a season ago. In an NHL career that started in 2003-04 the Port Hawkesbury, N.S., native has racked up 46 points (14g-32a) and 191 penalty minutes in 225 games with the Flames, Oilers, Chicago, N.Y. Islanders and Columbus.

Columbus’ fourth selection, 85th overall (third round), in the 2001 Entry Draft is also a two-time Memorial Cup participant, appearing in the 2003 tournament with the host Quebec Remparts, and winning the 2000 edition with the Rimouski Oceanic.

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.
--Jay Levin,

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