The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of six staff writers and over 485 fans that ranked players under the age of 25 as of August 10, 2021. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player.
The “Buffalo Sabres Top 25 Under 25” continues today with one of the organization’s top defensive prospects, Ryan Johnson.
Ever since the moment Ryan Johnson was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres with the 31st overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, expectations have been sky-high.
For most prospects, this is a truly unfair situation to walk into but Johnson truly had no choice, simply because the pick used was acquired from the St. Louis Blues as part of the much-maligned Ryan O’Reilly trade.
Although, Johnson has responded well and developed appropriately, which is wonderful news for an organization looking to rebuild its defensive depth from the top down.
While Johnson struggled statistically in his first season with the Golden Gophers in 2019-20, amassing only eight assists in 37 games, Johnson’s overall game took a leap forward in 2020-21.
As pointed out by Expected Buffalo’s Chad DeDominicis in May, “the part of Johnson’s game that truly evolved this season was his ability to impact the game offensively.”
Chad went on to say, “his (Johnson’s) impact goes beyond the points. In the games I tracked, he was the top defenseman on the roster in primary shot contributions at 5 on 5.”
Ryan Johnson out here in the final seconds of a one goal championship game making a big defensive play that led to the empty net goal to clinch it. pic.twitter.com/9j57Q29XbP— Chad DeDominicis (@CMDeDominicis) March 17, 2021
For an organization that continues to push to develop impactful prospects, Ryan Johnson certainly looks ready to make the leap to the professional ranks once his junior season completes in Minnesota.
#25 Casey Fitzgerald
#24 Aaron Huglen
#23 Linus Weissbach
#22 Aleksandr Kisakov
#21 Albert Lyckåsen
#20 Erik Portillo
#19 Devon Levi
#18 Matej Pekar
#17 Oskari Laaksonen
#16 Isak Rosen
#15 Jacob Bryson