Chad Johnson arrives ready to earn spot as Bruins backup goalie
|09.04.13 at 7:38 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — It isn’t the most glamorous competition, but perhaps one overlooked vacant roster spot heading into training camp is that of Tuukka Rask‘s backup.
The Bruins have two options to replace Anton Khudobin, who left the B’s on the first day of free agency to take a one-year deal with the Hurricanes. They are 24-year-old Niklas Svedberg, last season’s Baz Bastien winner as AHL goalie of the year in Providence, and 27-year-old Chad Johnson. Between them they have played 10 career NHL games, but one of them can expect to play 25-plus this coming season. Johnson, who signed with the B’s on the same day that Khudobin left, hopes it’s him.
“I’m coming into camp here, I’m going to earn my spot, so I’ve worked hard this summer to do that,” he said Wednesday. “Svedberg, [Malcolm] Subban, all the other goalies here, we’re all here to earn our spot. There’s a reason there’s a camp, so I’m looking forward to doing that.”
If Johnson is to be the Bruins’ man, he’ll be doing so with little NHL experience. With that being said, it’s worth considering that Khudobin, who was a fine backup for the B’s last season (2.32 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 14 games), had only played seven career NHL games prior to it.
“I don’t think I’ve at all established myself,” Johnson said. “I think it takes quite a few years to do that. You always have to prove yourself, even if you’ve been in this league for five or 10 years. It doesn’t really matter. For me, this is definitely my opportunity to get my foot in the door. I’m hoping to take advantage of it.”
Johnson was drafted 125th overall by the Penguins in the 2006 draft, but never played in their organization. After finishing at the University of Alaska (where he played well enough to be a Hobey Baker finalist in 2009), he was traded to the Rangers. He spent three seasons there, playing mostly in the AHL but making six NHL appearances before spending last season in Phoenix’ organization. He had a 3.00 GAA and .903 save-percentage for Portland in the AHL, and one of his four appearances for the Coyotes last season was a 21-save shutout against the Predators.