When I posted my thoughts on who should end up on the third line, a lot of people thought I was nuts for overlooking Carl ‘Yeti’ Soderberg. They also thought I should have kept Daniel Paille on the Merlot line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. One player that I think we all overlooked in our projections was Bruins prospect Nick Johnson. He’s having a Torey Krug like tear in the preseason.
Johnson is not one of those eighteen year old phenoms out to get an entry contract. He’s a twenty-seven year old player with four seasons of NHL experience. He spent two seasons in a two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, a full season playing for the Minnesota Wild, and played part of last season with the Phoenix Coyotes. He’s got a blue collar mentality that would make him a great fit with the Black and Gold. He’s also playing every game like it’s going to be his last in the NHL.
In the two games he’s played he’s put up three goals for the Bruins. (Two against Montreal, and a very pretty one that got past Pavel Datsyuk and netminder Jimmy Howard to give Bruins their second goal of the night.) I finally got to watch the game, and it was one of the Bruins highlights of a very disappointing game.
Nick Johnson’s preseason performance has certainly earned him consideration in my book for a spot on the third line. It’s also attracted the attention of the Bruins organization. Bruins head coach Claude Julien is certainly taking him seriously.
“The [front office] signed him. I didn’t know much about him before camp. He’s got close to 100 games in the NHL. So he’s got some experience and it shows,” said Claude Julien. “It shows that he has some experience in these types of games. We’re always looking for depth players. There’s some spots open and right now he’s created a good battle for some of those open spots. He’s scored a couple of goals; I think in Montreal, he’s got another one tonight, two goals in three games. Not bad for a guy that came in that not too many people knew about.”
His under the radar performance will at the very least get him a spot on the Providence roster next year. We’ve been looking at a lot of young kids to fill in the holes for Rich Peverley. Nick Johnson just might be that one.