Chad Johnson was probably one of the better surprises for the Boston Bruins this year. The Black and Gold chose not to keep back-up goaltender Anton Khudobin after the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, and needed a second goalie to play behind Tuukka Rask. At the time, they didn’t feel that Providence goaltenders were ready for the NHL.
Johnson was a fifth round draft pick back in 2006 for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Like Khudobin, Johnson had only played in a handful of NHL games before getting promoted by the Bruins. Ten in total, six for the New York Rangers, and four for the Phoenix Coyotes. Also like Khudobin, there was a some grumbling in the Bruins’ fan base over promoting another ‘part-time keeper’ in Boston.
Chad Johnson certainly got a workout this season wearing the Black and Gold. He ended up between the pipes in Boston more times than most fans predicted. In all, he played in twenty seven games. His final record was 17-4-3 (two shutouts). His goals against average (2.10), and his save percentage (.925) were in the top ten in the league. He was stable, reliable, and earned a following amongst the Boston fan base.
With the Bruins unexpected and heartbreaking departure from the postseason, the organization now has to take a look at the roster and make tweaks where they think its necessary to improve the squad for next season. While Jarome Iginla is the name people talk about re-signing, Chad Johnson will also be hitting the free agency market. Chad Johnson’s numbers are good enough that another organization could go and snap up the Bruins number two goaltender. Anton Khudobin was snapped up by the Carolina Hurricanes last July where he found himself as their team’s number one goaltender.
Certainly there are factors in whether or not Boston chooses to retain Johnson. Naturally, the Bruins will need to decide if Niklas Svedberg or Malcolm Subban are ready to switch out the ‘P’ on their jerseys for a ‘B’. Personally, I don’t believe Subban is ready, and I don’t know if Svedberg could be the number two in Boston right now either. It would be a shame for the Bruins to miss out again on signing a player that has exceeded our expectations and performed well at the NHL level. Hopefully, we’ll be able to retain his services for another year to provide dependable strength in the crease for the Bruins.