The Boston Bruins made resigning Tuukka Rask the primary goal for the offseason, to the point of sacrificing others players to be able to do so. The enormous amount of attention Rask’s contract received made sure that the few other deals made at the time were lost in all the hustle. Anton Khudobin is gone, and Chad Johnson, no not another career change for Ochocinco, was brought in to little fanfare or notice. With the reliable play from Khudobin now out the window, there is not much known about the new backup, who will be sure to start a few games during this upcoming full regular season.
Johnson has not been in the NHL for that long. After playing in college, the 27 year old has spent most of his career as a journeyman with the New York Rangers for a few stints, and, more recently, with the Phoenix Coyotes. In fact, he has spent most of his games in the AHL for those respective teams.
Now he finds himself in Boston, where he will have to shoulder much more responsibility as a real backup goalie than he is used to. He has served as backup for brief periods, such as in New York where he did so for Henrik Lundqvist, but the Bruins appear to have him set to be it full time now. Niklas Svedberg will be down in Providence this next season with Malcolm Subban. But those two goalies are prospects for the future. Now it will be Johnson’s time to step up.
He will be expected to face the same number of games as Khudobin did, but there may be some doubt as to his performance experience for the growing importance of the job. The trend in pro hockey these days has been to have two strong goalies. The Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils and the Detroit Red Wings have all spent substantial money on securing quality back up goaltenders. Teams no longer want to have a worry about winning a game if the starter is taking a rest. For team competing to not only make the playoffs, but to win a Stanley Cup as well, every game counts. The Bruins find themselves in this elite category of teams, yet are bucking the trend. It is somewhat surprising to considering the emphasis placed on defense.
Either the Bruins got a massive bargain for Johnson, or he is just another backup to fill the cracks. It is not to say that Johnson is not good enough to play in the NHL. Rather, the Bruins need more security and experience at the position than they can afford to take with risk. Hopefully Johnson can prove doubters like myself wrong and avoid a painful reality midway through the season.
Tim Nikolouzos is a Boston Bruins writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @timnikolou