The Boston Bruins continue to make relatively low-impact, affordable offseason signings by signing Aaron Johnson to a one-year, two-way contract.
Johnson is a defenseman who was primarily with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season. He played in 56 games, scored three goals and added 13 assists for 16 points total: career highs for assists and points. That wasn’t his first tour of duty with Columbus, though–he played there previously in 2003-04 as well as 2005-06 and 2006-07. In the past, he has also been part of the New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators organizations.
However, he has a wealth of experience in the AHL. He spent 2010-11 exclusively with the Milwaukee Admirals, Nashville’s AHL affiliate, and put up 35 points–all but nine of them assists–in 72 games. During his first stint with the Blue Jackets, he split his time between Columbus and the Syracuse Crunch, where 2005-06 stood out especially because of his 29 points and 122 penalty minutes in 49 games there that season.
Johnson was drafted by Columbus in 2001, during the club’s relative infancy.
The Johnson signing is most likely part of the bigger effort to make the Providence Bruins better and return them to a playoff contending team next season.
The recent signing of Matt Bartkowski may be for the same purpose. Another defenseman, also placed on a one-year two-way deal, Bartkowski had a good season last year with the P-Bruins. In 50 games in Providence, he had three goals, 19 assists and 38 penalty minutes, building off success in 2010-11 that saw him lead all team defensemen in points (23) and earn Best Defenseman honors in a vote by his teammates. He’s also experienced a few NHL callups and, curiously enough, in three separate callups, he’s played the Pittsburgh Penguins three different times. Bartkowski hails from the Pittsburgh area. Plus, he played his college hockey at Ohio State, so maybe he’ll have some common discussion topics with Johnson.