The Bruins announced the signing of Swedish rookie goaltender Niklas Svedberg to a one year, one-way contract on Monday afternoon, a deal for $600,000 that slots Svedberg in as the B’s backup goaltender. It also effectively ended Chad Johnson’s stint with the Black and Gold after one very good, mutually beneficial season for the backstop and the hockey club.
Johnson finished with a 17-4-3 record as Tuukka Rask’s understudy in his first full NHL season at 27 years old, and posted a 2.10 goals against average and .925 save percentage while going undefeated on the TD Garden ice. Now the backup netminder will look for an NHL gig elsewhere – somewhere like the Winnipeg Jets would make a lot of sense – much like Anton Khudobin did successfully with the Carolina Hurricanes after one tour as the backup in Boston.
Johnson was torn about returning to the Bruins when he discussed it in the days following the end of the season, but said he leaves Boston with fond memories in a Monday night email to CSNNE.com.
“This past season was an amazing experience for me. It meant everything professionally as well as personally. Professionally it was my first real opportunity in the NHL so I had/have a lot to prove as usual. Being around a great group of players, coaches and fans on a daily basis gave me so much experience that will only be positive moving forward,” wrote Johnson. “[It was] a great group of guys, and that is why they always do so well. They are very humble and united as a group. It was such a privilege to be a part of it. Personally it was amazing. To have the opportunity to play for an NHL team full time, and to be apart of an organization like the Bruins was a huge honor and privilege.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity Peter [Chiarelli], as well as Claude [Julien], gave me last year. They had a lot of confidence in me [despite the] very little experience I had at the NHL level. I am very grateful for the opportunity. I loved the city, and the passion of the fans for Bruins hockey. [It was] second to none in the NHL. Moving forward, I am excited for the next opportunity to prove more and more. I love to win, and be apart of a winning environment. I obviously would love to be able to help a team win a lot of hockey games. I am looking for a chance to really have an important roll with a team.”
Given the difficult salary cap situation facing the Bruins, it was clear backup goaltender was an area where the team might be able to apply some savings headed into the 2014-15 season. It was also time for the B’s to get a look at either Svedberg or Malcolm Subban in that role after both played well in Providence last season.
The 24-year-old Svedberg made 33 saves in a winning effort over the Nashville Predators in his only NHL appearance last season, and was 25-15-4 with the P-Bruins last season to go along with a .910 save percentage and 2.63 goals against average. Svedberg was named the AHL’s top goaltender two years ago for the Providence Bruins, and the time was now in his develop path with the Bruins organization.