Chad Johnson

Woody…Is That A….Johnson

Training Camp opened up today without any hitched, with 61 players in attendance. The roster included a number of invites, prospects and a handful of players signed to play with the Pack this season.

One player who is on the Rangers’ payroll, but will play in Hartford this season is the subject of today’s Ranger Countdown profile: Chad Johnson.

Player Profile
Little was known about the then 23 year old Johnson we he came into camp last year after four seasons in the NCAA. Acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a fifth round pick during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft get together, little was expected of him from most.

Going into the season, the goaltending setup for the Rangers was all but predetermined as being Henrik Lundqvist starting with Steve Valiquette backing him up. The rest of the goaltending roster was left to fight over spots in Hartford and Charlotte.

With a solid camp, and start to the season, Johnson eventually secured the starting role with the Wolf Pack over the more senior Miika Wiikman and Matt Zaba, and when Steve Valiquette‘s form dropped at the NHL level and Lundqvist had to sit out a couple of games, they turned to the rookie.

Johnson had to work hard in his debut season at the NHL level, but ultimately a credible 1-2-1 record in five games, with a .911 save percentage and 2.35 GAA. In most cases it would have been good enough to keep him up at the NHL level, and if hadn’t been for his relatively inexperience (he played just 79 games in 4 seasons with Alaska-Fairbanks), and a concern about stunting his development as an occasional replacement for Lundqvist, it may have very well been the case.

Instead they returned him to the Wolf Pack where he finished with a 24-18-2 record, but was part of a Hartford team that missed the playoffs for the first time.

Going into training camp this year, and it’s clear he’ll once again be going to Hartford, though it’s likely only an injury will see him play in the NHL this time round. Down in the AHL he’ll get to work on his consistency, and get to play a lot more games. His likely competition will come from UFA signing Cameron Talbot, and perhaps Jordan Parise if the Rangers elect to sign a fifth goaltender.

Maybe next year when Biron is in his final season of a two-year contract, will Johnson get his chance.

2009-10 Statistics
Team: Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Stats: 24-18-2 Record, 2.54 GAA and 0.911 SP in 47 games

Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 1-2-1 Record, 2.35 GAA and 0.911 SP in 5 games

Prediction
Team: Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Stats: 28-20-6 Record, 2.60 GAA and 0.909 SP in 57 games

Trivia
Johnson is often jokingly referred to as Dos Neuve (he wears #29) in reference to his namesake Chad Ochocinco

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