The Buffalo Sabres have a pretty good problem involving blueliner Ryan Johnson if he keeps up the stellar play he’s shown in his first two appearances.
On Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres called up Ryan Johnson and gave him an eight-minute trial to see how well he would acclimate to the NHL game. Johnson passed that test, and wound up on the first pairing with Rasmus Dahlin, where he once again put on a stellar show.
If Johnson enjoys a few more good games in Mattias Samuelsson’s absence, the rookie defenseman could still remain in a blue and gold uniform, but it will take some relentless roster (and lineup) shuffling to keep him here.
The Sabres could always waive Jacob Bryson, which will revert him to Rochester, even if they will pay a buried penalty. However, doing so, and this is assuming Johnson continues to play well, could keep the latter with the big club long-term, and likely for the full season.
Will the Buffalo Sabres keep Ryan Johnson with the big club full-time?
Samuelsson’s injury isn’t expected to be long-term at this point, so Johnson only needs to keep up this level of play for a few more games unless something changes. Therefore, the Blue and Gold will need to make this decision sooner than later, but since Bryson has sat from the press box for all but three games this season and Johnson is already seeing minutes on the first pairing, it strongly implies Buffalo wants him in the City of Good Neighbors long-term.
Overall, as shocking as it was to see Johnson called up at the last minute this past Saturday, it would be equally as shocking to see the Buffalo Sabres revert him to the AHL if he keeps up his high level of play. It would take a massive meltdown for the organization to revert him to Rochester, and in just two games, he has already shown us more than Bryson has since October 2022, when the now almost-26-year-old was supposed to trend upward.
Source: Sabres thoughts: Matt Savoie nearing NHL debut, Jiri Kulich dominating the AHL and more by Matthew Fairburn, The Athletic