When you think of Chad Johnson, you immediately think of the former pro bowl Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver right? It doesn't seem like many know the NHL goaltender with the same name. That has been the story of Chad Johnson's NHL career.
A quite, rarely heard of backup goaltender that is seen as a journeyman.
Most Sabres fans merely saw Johnson as a piece of a trade that had the mission of simply dumping Michal Neuvirth to guarantee 30th place.
Many don't know the Chad Johnson that is had as good of a showing in the month of November than any goaltender in the NHL.
Johnson recorded a .954 save percentage and a 1.12 goals against average in November. He improved to 6-7-1 on the season and has improved each start after a poor 3-6 start with the worst save percentage in the NHL.
Starting off in college at the university of Alaska-Fairbanks, Johnson was quite the college goalie. His senior season was Johnson's best. He won the Central Collegiate Hockey Association player of the year. He was also a Hobey Baker finalist.
In that season Johnson had an impressive 1.66 goals against average and a .944 save percentage.
Journey in the NHL
His play earned him a spot on the Pittsburgh Penguins after being drafted with the 125th overall pick. Johnson never saw time with the Penguins after Pittsburgh traded the goaltender to the New York Rangers where he spent 3 seasons playing for the Rangers AHL affiliate in the Hartford Wolfpack and Connecticut Whales.
When called up in 2009, Johnson went 1-2-1 in 4 starts for the Rangers. For most of his tenure in New York, Johnson was a emergency call up as he remained the Whales starter in the AHL.
This seemed to be the tale of Johnson's start in the NHL. He was good, but not good enough.
After becoming a free agent in the summer of 2011, Johnson signed a two way contract with the then Phoenix Coyotes. He started in two games for the Coyotes after starter Mike Smith went down with an injury. Johnson went 2-0 with a shutout in his debut. He finished both games with a total 1.21 GAA.
Yet was then again casted away back into the AHL.
In 2013 Chad Johnson finally had his first real NHL opportunity with the Bruins. He had his breakout season backing up Tuukka Rask, Johnson appeared in 27 games going 17-4-3 with a career high 2.10 goals against average.
However he jumped teams again going to the New York Islanders through free agency. He struggled to hold the same success as he had in Boston going 8-8-1 with a poor 3.08 GAA and .889 save percentage.
Playing for 4 NHL teams in 4 years, Johnson could never find the consistent play he found his senior year of college.
Now after being traded to the Sabres in the 2015 trade deadline, Johnson seems to have found his comfort level. He often struggles with the same issues that held him back from ever getting a starting job such as poor positioning and inconsistency, however Chad Johnson has done an excellent job filling in while Robin Lehner is out with a leg injury.
Johnson isn't the franchise goaltender that every team covets, however the 29 year old goaltender has been a very valuable piece to a Buffalo Sabres team that has improved more than any team in the NHL.
He turned his role into what was simply a chip in another famous tank job by Mr. Tim Murray, into a veteran leader that has kept the Sabres right thick in the middle of a playoff chase.