If you are a general manager in the NHL and you are looking to build a championship-caliber team, what are some of the assets that you need to have?
The last three Stanley Cup winning teams definitely drew up the blueprint for how to construct a roster and staff worthy of a title. The Chicago Blackhawks (2013), the Los Angeles Kings (2012), and yes, the Boston Bruins (2011) are looked upon around the league for being some of the model franchises. Here are a handful of their attributes:
Pro-active front office? Check.
Solid coaching staff? Check.
Leadership on the ice? Check.
Depth on the blue line? Check.
Scoring up front? Check.
Elite goaltender? Check.
All of the above are absolutely essential to building a franchise both on and off the ice. When it comes to the players on the ice, depth is the key. Forwards and defensemen make up the main roster and receive most of the attention. However, most teams neglect what could be the most important position on the team.
Every team around the league must dress 20 skaters for each game. The 20th player is the backup goaltender.
Sure, most of the time he is the guy who opens the door to allow players on the bench during the game or to get the other players ready before the game. Many ignore the fact that if your “franchise” netminder goes down with an injury for an extended period of time, you want to make sure that you are secure and comfortable with that position.
For the Bruins, this was a position that they have focused on for the last several years.
From 2009-2012, Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask provided the Bruins with what was the best goaltending tandem in the league. When Thomas left the team, Rask was dubbed the number one goaltender and they brought up Anton Khudobin from the Providence Bruins to be his backup.
During the offseason, Khudobin signed with the Carolina Hurricanes, leaving another void that needed to be filled.
The Bruins signed Chad Johnson in that same offseason to bring him in and compete for the job. At the end of training camp, he won the job. That in itself was a great accomplishment for Johnson considering the depth that the Bruins have within the system at the goaltender spot. Youngsters Malcolm Subban and Niklas Svedberg gave Johnson all he could handle, but the organization felt that it was still not the time for the two young studs and that playing in the minors would do them wonders.
As for Johnson, he came into this season with very little expectations. The 27-year-old goalie started his career with the New York Rangers, but most recently with the Phoenix Coyotes. He has played in only 10-career NHL games while posting a 3-2-3 record before coming to Boston. With numbers like that, it is understandable as to why some fans were wondering why Johnson would be the best fit to be behind Rask.
So far this season, he has started two games and has a 1-1-0 record with a 2.54 goals against average and a .900 save percentage. He received his first victory as a member of the Black and Gold back on October 23 against the Buffalo Sabres.
Although it still might be a little premature to determine whether or not this was the right move made by the Bruins, Johnson will be out to prove doubters wrong. All he needs is more ice time.