The Buffalo Sabres needed veteran leadership for their young team, and 35-year-old Erik Johnson epitomizes that leadership in 2023-24.
Erik Johnson is nearing career twilight, but he still serves a purpose for young hockey teams like the Buffalo Sabres in terms of leadership. But despite joining a young team for 2023-24, Johnson is also joining a high-octane team that finished third in goals scored last season, which gives him an environment to put up a few more points than he did in 2022-23.
During his final year with the Colorado Avalanche, Johnson scored just eight points and zero goals, despite appearing in 63 games. While Colorado ranked ninth out of 32 teams last year in goals scored, Johnson will likely get more opportunities to score for a couple of reasons:
- The Sabres are a more experienced group this year with the potential to score even more in 2023-24, and
- Johnson could see ice time in the Top 4 at certain times this season, depending on what head coach Don Granato decides to do with the rotation.
Back in 2021-22, the Avs finished third in the NHL with 312 goals, and it’s a realistic number for the Sabres to hit this season. He also had 25 points and eight goals that year.
Erik Johnson scores 20-plus points with the Buffalo Sabres in 2023-24
That’s right, we’re boldly predicting a resurgence in points for Erik Johnson. I’ve already stated it’s realistic he sees some time on the first pairing in a recent piece, and if it happens, he will take advantage of it, logging most of his points in the form of assists, but every now and again, he will get his goals.
Over the past six seasons, Johnson hit the 25-point mark three times, and while it may be too bold to claim he can do that at this point in his career, anywhere between 20 and 24 following a simple eight-point outing last year will be a challenge, yet it’s also a possibility on this hockey team. Look for Johnson to see occasional time on the Top 4 in addition to the bottom pairing, taking occasional advantage to find twine or to make a primary or secondary assist.
No, 20 to 24 points is nothing to brag about, but for a 35-year-old who scored just eight of them last season, it’s a remarkable increase. If Johnson sees more than a fair share of time in the Top 4, expect him to reach the mark.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)