Technically, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Ryan Johnson is a prospect, but it’s tough to see him reverting to the AHL given his initial seven games.
Many of us knew in foresight that it was a good idea for the Buffalo Sabres to call up Ryan Johnson. Few of us, however, saw the immediate success that Johnson has enjoyed since he debuted in a rather sudden fashion against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In that game, Johnson scored his first NHL point on a Jeff Skinner goal that helped Buffalo upset the Leafs. While Johnson hasn’t had a point since then, it doesn’t mean he’s been ineffective. And given his overall play, it may be time to stop calling the 22-year-old a prospect since he’s not going back to the AHL unless he decides to quit showing up for games.
It’s almost time to erase the “prospect” moniker from Buffalo Sabres defenseman
When The Athletic released their “Fastest-rising prospects” piece earlier, Matthew Fairburn was quick to point to Johnson. Here is a condensed version of what he had to say about the former University of Minnesota product:
"“He tore it up at training camp and was the team’s first defenseman call-up. He’s gotten time on the top pair with Rasmus Dahlin and handled that assignment well. Johnson’s future in Buffalo looks bright.”"
Source: Who’s the fastest-rising prospect in each NHL team’s pipeline? by The Athletic NHL Staff
Johnson could factor in as a long-term core piece to the Buffalo Sabres franchise if general manager Kevyn Adams can work out a deal with him when the time comes. But even if Johnson can’t financially fit as part of the Sabres core, assuming he’s still playing at a high level, then he will at least stick around for more than a few seasons as this franchise looks to break that playoff barrier that has hung over them for nearly 13 years.
Per Cap-Friendly, Johnson has this year and next year left on his entry-level contract before he becomes a restricted free agent. And unless something unforeseen occurs between now and then, expect him to return to the Buffalo Sabres on a bridge deal, and they will go from there. In the meantime, look for the rookie defenseman to keep getting better as the season wears on.