Buffalo Sabres defenseman Erik Johnson had nothing but positive things to say about the City of Buffalo, and of the team itself when talking to the press.
When you check out Elite Prospects, the Buffalo Sabres are currently the youngest team in hockey for the second year running. But that doesn’t mean the Blue and Gold don’t have an older player, like Erik Johnson, who appears ready to help Buffalo take that next step.
And at 35 years of age, it’s safe to say that Johnson has seen just about everything across his 16 seasons in the NHL. So when he makes a few predictions, even bold ones, there is merit to them. And yesterday, Johnson did just that when talking to the press, saying this team looks like they are on the verge of becoming a serious championship contender for a while.
"“When you just look at the talent up and down the lineup, this team is set up for success for many, many years. So it was exciting from my standpoint to come here and be part of it. … The window for them to contend is open for a long time.” – via Buffalo Hockey Beat"
Source: Erik Johnson excited to be in Buffalo, give Sabres missing element by Bill Hoppe
One of the Buffalo Sabres newest defensemen believes in the Blue and Gold
It’s hard not to believe Johnson, thanks to the way Buffalo exceeded all of our expectations last season when they served as the league’s dark horse playoff contender. You don’t score 296 goals if you aren’t loaded with talent, but then again, you also don’t allow 300 of them unless something is seriously wrong.
That was the case for Buffalo in 2022-23, when their defense, be it the overall defensive rotation and the play of their forwards, was nothing short of abysmal most of the time. Sure players like Rasmus Dahlin, Mattias Samuelsson, and the power forward in Alex Tuch played well defensively, but the overall effort was futile.
This is something that Johnson, fellow newcomer Connor Clifton, and even winger Jordan Greenway, should remedy. And if they do, Clifton and Greenway could be in the Queen City longer than what their current contracts state if there is enough cap space, while Johnson will likely be year-to-year.
The former two are both younger players in this league capable of adding a new dynamic to a team that desperately needed defense, be it at the blue line or at forward. Toss in Devon Levi at goaltender, and it’s easy to see why Johnson believes this team will contend for more than just the foreseeable future.