Ryan Johnson forgoes free agency to sign with Sabres

Johnson was the 31st overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft

Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres have signed 2019 first-round pick Ryan Johnson to his two-year entry-level contract.

The Minnesota Gophers defenseman could have become an unrestricted free agent in August, but that rarely happens.

Johnson was the first-round pick acquired in the Ryan O’Reilly trade that happened on July 1, 2018. He was the final pick of the first round, because the St. Louis Blues had just won the Stanley Cup.

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Johnson, who turns 22 in July, played four seasons with Minnesota, scoring nine goals and 50 assists for 59 points in 143 games. In 40 games this season, Johnson had four goals and 14 assists for 18 points.

After Sabres Development Camp last season, Johnson thought long and hard about signing his rookie contract then. However, decided he wanted to go back to Minnesota and try to win a national championship.

The Gophers lost to Quinnipiac in overtime of the national championship game. Zach Metsa was the Bobcats’ captain, and is now a teammate of Johnson’s with the Rochester Americans.

During camp, Johnson said he loves the Sabres organization and talked about his decision to sign or go back for his senior season,

“Buffalo is a great organization,” said Johnson. “Right now, I’m just evaluating the camp and the staff, and just taking some time too, because it’s a really tough decision for me. I want to make sure I’m doing it with confidence.”

Johnson also played for Team USA at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he picked up a goal and three assists for four points in seven games. He also won gold for the Americans in Edmonton.

Johnson will report to the Rochester Americans, who play Game 3 of the AHL Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday. The best-of-seven-series is tied, 1-1.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
Featured Image Photo Credit: Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres)