Season Stats: 36 GP | 10-17-3 | 3.55 GAA | .891 SV %
Contract Status: UFA
In his second stint with the Buffalo Sabres, Chad Johnson certainly saw his fair share of playing time. The journeyman netminder appeared in 36 games this season, posting a 10-17-3 record. Behind a defense that left a lot to be desired, Johnson had arguably the worst campaign of his professional career.
Though he isn’t totally to blame for his disappointing stat line, in five full seasons at the NHL level, he has struggled with consistency on a year-to-year basis. During his first season with the Sabres in 2015-16, he posted a .920 save percentage which earned him an opportunity with the Calgary Flames in 2016-17, where he split starting duties with Brian Elliott.
Following a pedestrian run in Western Canada, Johnson returned to Buffalo last summer on a one-year contract for $2.5 million. With that price tag, he became the 38th highest-earning goaltender in the league, a status he failed to live up to. The Sabres paid for a high-end backup, and what they got in return was ultimately below-average.
That’s not to say Johnson didn’t experience flashes of greatness amid a disappointing season for incumbent starter, Robin Lehner. In seven appearances in the month of February, he posted a .932 save percentage, earning a 4-2 record during that stretch.
Conversely, he was pulled from starting duties on seven separate occasions throughout the year. Not a great look for a well-paid backup. As has been the case his entire career, he just couldn’t stay consistent in a year where the starting job was there for the taking.
There is a strong possibility that the Sabres turn to Linus Ullmark to assume the starting role between the pipes next season. If that is the case, Jason Botterill could feasibly pursue a reliable veteran presence to serve as a safety valve should Ullmark struggle. Johnson could be that guy, however, unless he agrees to a significant pay decrease, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the organization decided to pursue other options.
Season Grade: C-
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