3 contenders who must talk to the Sabres about Erik Johnson

The Sabres may jump back into playoff contention this season, but it doesn’t mean they need to keep all their current players, like veteran Erik Johnson.

Nov 19, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Erik Johnson (6) celebrates his goal
Nov 19, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Erik Johnson (6) celebrates his goal / Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports
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While the Sabres no longer have Mattias Samuelsson for the season and Owen Power remains out with an upper-body injury, it doesn’t mean they need to hang onto defenseman Erik Johnson. Bringing the 17-year veteran to the City of Good Neighbors made sense in July 2023, but with such a turbulent season to date and with plenty of blueliners in the system on one-way contracts, it could lead Buffalo to sell Johnson to a contender

While potential trade candidates like Casey Mittelstadt or even Victor Olofsson may warrant better returns than Johnson, there will be no shortage of teams calling for his services should they look to acquire one more seasoned veteran on the blue line or a potential leader in the locker room. 

Teams figuring to be serious playoff contenders on the younger end of the NHL would be perfect fits for Johnson. And better yet, all three teams listed below would have something of value to give the Sabres should they open negotiations for the 35-year-old. Again, you won’t see a blockbuster, but Buffalo remains a young team that can land a high-potential young asset. 

Erik Johnson’s experience, leadership, will entice teams to call the Sabres

On the ice, Johnson’s value has diminished, evidenced by healthy scratches, a career-low 14:06 average time on the ice, and his overall inability to help the Sabres move the puck into the offensive zone. 

This doesn’t mean Johnson wouldn’t be a good fit for the following teams, as they will all look for skaters at the deadline who will improve their on-ice product. Johnson would slide in and play a sound role regardless of where he lands should the Sabres move him. But that value would extend to the locker room, where he will provide a veteran voice when things don’t go so smoothly. 

So, who would make incredible fits for Johnson if Buffalo sells at the deadline? Here are three teams whose front offices might just call up general manager Kevyn Adams.