Todays season ending review is on defenseman Aaron Johnson.
Aaron Johnson played over sixty games for Columbus in 2006-07 so any misconceptions this was an AHL defender trying to earn a job in the NHL are not correct. Former Jackets gm Doug McLean wanted to keep him, new gm Scott Howson could not find a spot for him but both liked his game and praised him.
Unfortunately with so many of the same kind of defenders on the Isles roster and the group healthy early Johnson had problems getting into the lineup, when he finally did it was as a forward or rare instances when the club would dress seven defenders.
A knee injury at practice set him back months and he never got his chance at full strength until late January where he played most of the games in February and March and did a very good job at even strength and was a big factor in the clubs six game winning streak. For the most part he was playing fifteen minutes a game or more and on a team that could not score played to a plus rating which was impressive with steady play. Nothing flashy but he showed a lot of good signs and was rewarded with minutes.
Johnson was constantly praised by the staff for his attitude and hard work.
Johnson enters June as a restricted free agent but like Columbus will he be qualified? The numbers game on this roster and signed defenders make this a tough call for Garth Snow and Ted Nolan to bring him back because there does not seem to be a spot for him again with everyone healthy. Of course it also could mean Garth Snow can trade a defender to give him a spot in the top six which makes me look at Bruno Gervais who is a restricted free agent.
It took until January before he finally played on a regular basis, he did a solid/steady job on the backline and logged significant minutes and it was impressive.
Aaron Johnson receives a B. I would like to see more but I'm doubtful that will happen here.